n a widely publicized ruling characterized by poor scholarship and gross errors of fact and logic, Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy has embarrassed himself, the Supreme Court, and the entire country whose laws can now be seen by the whole world as based the whims of mediocre and morally myopic judges.
Kennedy last month wrote the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision declaring the death penalty for child rapists as unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of "cruel and unusual" punishment. The decision overturned the death penalty statutes of six states and effectively gutted pending efforts to pass similar laws in five others.
At issue was the death penalty to be meted out to Patrick Kennedy (apparently no relation), the 300-lb New Orleans dirtbag convicted in 2003 of raping his 8 year-old step daughter. The rape was so severe, the girl required emergency surgery to save her life from the extreme anatomical damage.
In his ruling, Kennedy claimed that "evolving standards of decency" as well as his and the majority justices' "indpendent judgement" required that the rapist's life be spared. He proclaimed, "there is a national consensus against capital punishment for the crime of child rape," because neither the federal government nor a majority of states impose it.
But Kennedy, appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan, and the four other justices who joined his decision -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and GOP presidential picks David Souter and John Paul Stevens -- are wrong.
As the New York Times and other publications subsequently reported, the U.S. Congress in 2006 passed legislation, and President George Bush signed it, amending the Uniform Code of Military Justice that adds child rape to the military death penalty. That means, contrary to Kennedy's false assertion, there is indeed a national consensus in favor of capital punishment for child rape; and there are no such "evolving standards of decency" to invoke against those states considering adding it to their criminal laws.
Kennedy had also argued that capital punishment for child rape presents problems such as "the special risks of unreliable testimony" from child witnesses, and that because child rape often happens in families, relatives might be inclined to "shield the perpetrators from discovery" if the penalty were death.
Dissenting, Justice Samuel Alito noted that Kennedy's personal opinions were "policy arguments" that did not belong in a Supreme Court decision on a point of law. Kennedy's personal views, he said, were "simply not pertinent to the question whether the death penalty is 'cruel and unusual punishment.'" Alito said the Constitution "does not authorize this court to strike down federal or state criminal laws on the ground that they are not in the best interests of crime victims or the broader society."
Justice Kennedy now stands exposed as a mediocre legal mind whose dictatorial moral arrogance and poor scholarship has overturned the legitimately adopted laws passed by legitimately elected representatives in several state legislatures.
Under "evolving standards of decency," it seems clear that to restore some semblence of honor and integrity to the American legal system, Justice Kennedy must step down. His continued presence on the highest court in the land is a disgrace and embarrassment. If he had any sense of shame at all, he would resign forthwith.