Wrist slap inadequate

Our Other View

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that the execution of juvenile killers is unconstitutional. In writing for the court, Justice Anthony Kennedy found the punishment was unconstitutionally cruel under the Eighth Amendment:

“When a juvenile commits a heinous crime, the State can exact forfeiture of some of the most basic liberties, but the State cannot extinguish his life and his potential to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity.”

These two members of the editorial board agree with Justice Antonin Scalia, who said the above argument is “no way to run a legal system.”

Let the United States stop permitting an arbitrary age divide to allow murderous criminals to avoid just punishment.

A common, unconvincing argument in this debate claims that minors know not what they do, that they are not psychologically capable of making moral judgments. To say that a 17-year-old knows less about right and wrong than an 18-year-old who was born a day later is pure, unadulterated stupidity. The above example is extreme, but under the law, it could be argued.

On another note, our court system currently upholds a minor’s right to abortion. If the court system feels that a 14-year-old can make a responsible decision about bearing a child, how can that same court system then decide that that same minor is not capable about making a decision to kill another human being, that she doesn’t know that murder is wrong?

If execution is automatically ruled out for a minor murderer, the minor is not being tried justly. Allow a court to decide whether he or she deserves to live or die — not an age limit.

The United States must abolish the age divide. Instead, it must decide that those who commit homicide must all be tried justly in a court of law. In this ideal system, any criminal whose mentality comes into question should be analyzed by psychological experts to decide whether he or she knew what he or she was doing.

We do this now for grown men who kill; we can do it for minors, as well.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of two members of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.