U.S. Supreme Court tackles death penalty cases

This term, the nation’s high Court will consider the constitutionality of lethal injection, the means of execution currently used by most states and whether capital punishment is an appropriate sentence for rape of a child. Erin Sheley provides a good overview of the cases in The Weekly Standard.

This Supreme Court term marks a crossroads for death penalty jurisprudence. For the first time since 1890, the Court is considering the constitutionality of a particular means of execution–the lethal injection cocktail currently used by most states. And it is expected to rule, in a second case, on the constitutionality of capital punishment for a crime other than murder–the rape of a child. Both cases require the Court to construe one of the most nebulous clauses of the Constitution, the Eighth Amendment’s ban on “cruel and unusual punishments,” as well as the controversial 2005 precedent, Roper v. Simmons.

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