The US supreme court today struck down a Louisiana law allowing the state to execute people convicted of raping children.
In a 5-4 decision that that ends the practice nationwide, the high court said the state law allowing capital punishment in cases of child rape violates the US constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.
“The death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court.
He was joined by justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens.
The more conservative justices, Samuel Alito, chief justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
In deciding the case, the justices recognised the horror of the crime and “the revulsion society, and the jury that represents it, sought to express” by imposing a death penalty on a man convicted in 2003 of brutally raping his eight-year-old stepdaughter.