Tuesday, March 01, 2005

THE UNITED STATES has taken one more step toward joining the civilized world by rejecting the death penalty for minors. The vote was 5 to 4, and the justices who voted in the affirmative were Anthony Kennedy, John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer. Those dissenting were Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

If you look at who appointed the justices, you see that 3 out of 5 of the affirmative votes (Steven, Kennedy, and Souter) were appointed by Republican presidents; while all of the dissenters were Republican appointees. What this indicates to me is that it's crucial for a president of the United States to be willing to appoint moderates. The 3 Republicans who voted to strike down the death penalty for minors are all considered "swing voters" who do not consistently rule for either the conservative or the liberal point of view. Those justices who voted against today's ruling, in addition to being Republican appointees, are all (with the one exception of Sandra Day O'Connor, who is also considered a swing voter) hard-core right-wing ideologues who always vote for a particular ideology rather than on the unique constitutional issues involved in a specific case.

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