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Supreme Court to Decide Whether Rape of a Child Merits Death

Publication Date: 
January 05, 2008
The New York Times
Linda Greenhouse

Stanford Law's Supreme Court Litigation Clinic was referenced in a New York Times story about the Supreme Court's decision to examine whether it is Constitutional to allow the death penalty for the rape of a child. Led by Professor Jeff Fisher, the clinic is part of the legal team representing Patrick Kennedy, whose appeal is likely to be argued before the court in April:

...The United States Supreme Court's recent death penalty jurisprudence has paid close attention to evidence of whether contemporary society has reached a consensus on particular applications of capital punishment. The court relied on such an analysis to rule out the death penalty for mentally retarded defendants in 2002 and for juvenile killers in 2005. Louisiana is now invoking the same approach to argue that an application of the death penalty once widely deemed unconstitutional has become permissible.

Mr. Kennedy's lawyers are arguing that any such ''trend'' is illusory. ''By any objective measure,'' their brief says, Mr. Kennedy's sentence ''is not only cruel and unusual; it is cruel and unique.''


The appeal, Kennedy v. Louisiana, No. 07-343, was filed by lawyers from the Capital Appeals Project, in New Orleans; the Stanford Law School Supreme Court Litigation Clinic; and a New Orleans law firm, Adams and Reese.