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Kennedy v. Louisiana Assignment, Case Study Example

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Case Study

This case was tried in the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008, and the ruling was established on June 25, 2008.  Patrick Kennedy sought a civil lawsuit against the state of Louisiana to overturn a previous death sentence that had been thrust upon him.  Patrick Kennedy was convicted in the Louisiana District Court for the crime of child rape against his eight-year-old stepdaughter.  The state’s constitution provides that the district attorney could seek the death penalty in such cases, upon which the judge and jury awarded Kennedy with the death sentence for his convicted.  Kennedy appealed to the state Supreme Court where the decision was upheld due to landmark cases where five other states have allowed for the death penalty to be used in relation to similar crimes.  The question set forth in this case was whether states violate the Eight Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment by imposing the death sentence for the crime of child rape.

The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 in favor of Kennedy and declared that the Eighth Amendment bars states from imposing the death penalty for the rape of a child where the crime did not result, and was not intended to result, in the child’s death.  The court decided that by applying the death penalty in such a case would be defined as “cruel and unusual punishment” and it is a violation of the national consensus of the issue.  This implies that a national consensus exists that the death penalty, overall, should not be used as a viable penalty for child rape.  The minority opinion believed otherwise and claimed that no national consensus formally exists, and states should have the right to choose the proper penalty for such cases.

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