With the Supreme Court delaying the release of their decision on the Affordable Care Act, Americans will have to wait until Thursday morning to find out whether our grandmothers will be harvested for stem cells, as per my Fox News-informed understanding of Obamacare.
But the Supremes did render an important decision in Miller v. Alabama, in which Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the 5-4 majority, ruled that states violate the 8th amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment when they don't allow for the option of a sentence shorter than life without the possibility of parole for juveniles convicted of murder.
We also learned that Justice Samuel Alito really, really cares about sentencing 14-year-olds to life in prison without parole. If throwing kids in prison were a song, it'd be his "Free Bird." He cares about it so much that he read his dissent from the bench, a punishment that is somehow still legal, even as it features gems such as this…
The two (carefully selected) cases before us concern very young defendants, and despite the brutality and evident depravity exhibited by at least one of the petitioners, it is hard not to feel sympathy for a 14-year-old sentenced to life without the possibility of release. But no one should be confused by the particulars of the two cases before us. The category of murderers that the Court delicately calls “children” (murderers under the age of 18) consists overwhelmingly of young men who are fast approaching the legal age of adulthood. Evan Miller and Kuntrell Jackson are anomalies; much more typical are murderers like Donald Roper, who committed a brutal thrill-killing just nine months shy of his 18th birthday.
The case to which Alito refers to is Roper v. Simmons, in which Christopher Simmons was convicted of murder and Donald Roper was sued for relief in his capacity as the Superintendent of the correctional facility where Simmons was held. The legal term for Alito's dissent is "fail."
Unfortunately, we as a nation are still ineligible for parole from the life term appointment of Justice Alito.
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Tags: Children, Crime, Samuel Alito, Supreme Court