Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Nice form, but a little weak on the execution

In a 5-4 ruling, the US Supreme Court has done away with juvenile executions. [registration required, or use login "newsdigests/newsdigests"]

First reaction? It's about time.

Second reaction? I haven't read the opinions yet, but from the article's characterizations, I suspect the majority reached the right decision by the wrong logic, and that the minority reached the wrong decision by ignoring logic altogether.

The majority opinion indulges in flowery language about a juvenile killer's "potential to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity." And the minority opinion, or at least the excerpts from it -- but who trusts the Times to quote the good parts of Scalia or Rehnquist's opinions? -- just comes off as bitchy and irritated.

To me, it's really simple: When the state denies that someone is responsible enough to take part in typical, non-criminal "adult" actions -- drinking a beer, getting laid, voting -- then the state forfeits any legitimate authority to hold that same person responsible for "adult" crimes. If the kid isn't an adult when he tries to buy a copy of Playboy, then he isn't an adult when he buries an ax in Mom's frontal lobe, either.

Aside from that, of course, I just don't trust the state to get the death penalty right for anybody. It can't even deliver the fucking mail on time or balance a checkbook, and we're going to let it decide who lives and who dies? I don't think so.

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