Supreme Court could reconsider death penalty for child rape

The issue of whether the death penalty should be allowed in cases of child rape could be reheard by the Supreme Court this term.

Yesterday the Court ordered that parties in the case of Kennedy v. Louisiana file supplemental briefs “addressing not only whether rehearing should be granted but also the merits of the issue raised in the petition for rehearing.”

The rehearing was requested by Kennedy and Solicitor General Gregory Garre after the discovery of a little-known 2006 military law that made child rape a capital offense. The law was approved by Congress and adopted into Manual for Courts-Martial by executive order of President George W. Bush.

When the Court struck down the Louisiana law making child rape punishable by death, it based the decision in part of the absence of other laws punishing child rape by death.

The Court gave Kennedy and the Justice Department only 11 days in which to file their briefs. The State of Louisiana has until one week later to file its response. A decision of whether the Court will take up the case could come as soon as its first official conference of the term, scheduled for Sept. 29.

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