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Blogger Points Out Substantial Error in Supreme Court Decision

Posted Jul 2, 2008 6:34 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A blogger has pointed out an important fact missed by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and the authors of 10 Supreme Court briefs: The military has a law authorizing the death penalty for child rape.

Kennedy wrote the majority opinion last week in Kennedy v. Louisiana, a 5-4 decision barring the death penalty for child rape. Kennedy wrote that, based on consensus and the court’s own independent judgment, the penalty is unconstitutional for rapes that don’t end in death. He said rape is not a capital offense under the laws of 44 states or the federal government.

Kennedy was mistaken, according to blogger Dwight Sullivan, the New York Times reports. Two years ago Congress voted to make child rape an offense meriting the death penalty under the military justice system. Sullivan is a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve who works for the Air Force as a civilian defense lawyer handling death penalty appeals.

Sullivan titled his blog post “The Supremes dis the military justice system.” His conclusion: Military justice remains the Rodney Dangerfield of legal systems.

“We’re not talking about ancient history,” Sullivan told the Times in an interview. “This happened in 2006.”

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