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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 141548 Find in a Library
Journal: Behavioral Sciences and the Law  Volume:11  Issue:1  Dated:(Winter 1993)  Pages:67-77
Author(s): N J Finkel
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 11
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This analysis of the United States Supreme Court's reasoning in a case involving juvenile capital punishment concludes that the Court misunderstood and misused social science in justifying its decision.
Abstract: In Stanford vs. Kentucky, two juveniles sentenced to death raised an Eighth Amendment challenge. Justice Scalia's plurality opinion set the ground rules for deciding juvenile death penality cases. Scalia rejected not only social science but also decisions based solely on conceptual or moral grounds. He argued that the Court must do its own social science analysis of objective indicators to determine whether community sentiment finds the death penalty to be cruel and unusual. In determining whether a "national consensus" exists, Justice Scalia transformed the empirical question into an impossible question by requiring that a categorical aversion to all juvenile capital punishment must be shown. In practical and jurisprudential terms, this approach means that the court could never rule that the death penalty for juveniles is unconstitutional, because the case being decided would by itself demonstrate that no categorical aversion exists. Footnotes
Main Term(s): Jurisprudence; Juvenile capital punishment; US Supreme Court decisions
Index Term(s): Legal doctrines
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