Thursday, June 26, 2008

Questions on Kennedy v. Louisiana

Louisiana wanted to execute a guy named Kennedy (no obvious jokes please) who was convicted of raping his 8-year old stepdaughter. The Supreme Court decided yesterday that an execution for a non-homicide offense violates the Eighth Amendment. Kennedy will spend the rest of his life in jail, instead.

- What's the Torah view on this? I don't remember a rule about raping stepdaughters, but I do believe that men who rape minors that are not their stepdaughters are required to marry the victim with no possibility of divorce [Deut 22:29]) So, on biblical grounds at least, the Court was right to cancel Kennedy's execution. Unfortunately, they stopped too soon. Instead of being sent to jail for the rest of his life, Kennedy should have been sent to the chuppah. Like you, we await the glorious day when public policy in this country is based on strict biblical principles, and child-rapers like Kennedy are given permanent live-in victims, as God intended, rather than immoral, non-biblical punishments such as life without parole.

- What do the strict originalist types think of this decision? I imagine they are mightily peeved. After all, the holy inerrant God-like beings who composed and adopted the US Constitution did not object to executions for non-homicide offenses. I rather doubt any of those brilliant, moral, slave-owning men who gave us the 8th amendment intended for it to prevent us from executing child-rapists. Perhaps those crazy commie liberals say that standards of decency and ethics change over time, but originalists know better. They know the Founders got it right the first time, which is why the Constitution is written in stone, and can never, ever be reinterpreted or amended. So I'm sure there's some teeth-gnashing going on today in their secret, originalist clubhouse, presuming one exists.

-- And what is my view? (thanks for asking) I'm okay with the death penalty when you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that someone has committed a horrible, premeditated crime --and I think the states should be able to define for themselves what "horrible" means. The trouble is that proving something beyond a shadow of a doubt is near impossible, and too many innocent people have already been executed on flimsy evidence. Therefore, in practice I'm anti-capital punishment, and will remain so until time-travel or mind-reading machines have been perfected.

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