June 25th, 2008
04:47 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama splits with Supreme Court on rape executions

Obama speaks to reporters in Chicago on Wednesday.

Obama speaks to reporters in Chicago on Wednesday.

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama says he disagrees with a Supreme Court decision striking down the death penalty for child rapists, telling reporters Wednesday that states should be able to execute people for "heinous" crimes.

"I think that the rape of small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime," the Illinois senator said. "And if a state makes a decision that under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that does not violate our Constitution."

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that capital punishment can be applied only to murderers, striking down a death sentence for a Louisiana man convicted of sexually assaulting his 8-year-old stepdaughter.

The convict, Patrick Kennedy, would have been the first rapist in 44 years to be executed for a crime in which the victim was not killed.

Obama previously has said he believes the death penalty should be available to states, but that it must be applied fairly.

soundoff (207 Responses)
  1. Earl

    Then Barak when you're PRESIDENT, you can get the clowns that Bush put in there that are soft on everything.

    June 25, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  2. Enlightened Voter

    Rape of a child is a heinous crime. This is an example how we cannot let another repug in office or our court will be a joke. BTW Barack is a Harvard Educated Constitutional Law Scholar, he knows what he's talking about on this and every other legal issue.

    June 25, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  3. Wayne, Greenville TX

    A well-balanced, reasoned position from our next president. No talking points, no agenda – just a very telling insight into his thought processes. That's why I support him.

    Obama '08

    June 25, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  4. Justin from West Haven, CT

    I actually am surprised Obama holds this view, I actually agree with it as well.

    June 25, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  5. Independent-woman-4-Obama

    As a Roman Catholic, I am against the death penalty, but as a victim of childhood sexual abuse....... I would make an exception on pedophiles!
    The only way to stop these creeps is to throw them in jail for life or kill them. That include pedophile Catholic priests!

    June 25, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  6. puff

    There he is pointing his finger again. You know where you can stick your finger barack?

    June 25, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  7. Republican for Obama

    Wow!!! Now I would not have thought he felt this way, I didn't see him as that kind. I personally endorse the death penalty, but I honestly didn't see Obama agreeing with me on this topic. It's not a primary issue at stake in this election, but it is a fundamental statement to me in where he stands. No nonsense straight talk. Want an answer, here it is: He endorses the Death Penalty. I like him more and more every day.
    BaRAK the Vote baby!!!

    Obama/(insert name) '08

    June 25, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  8. Vig

    Listen to the way Obama talks. First of all, Mr. Charisma is a bore when he doesn't have a pep rally behind him. Secondly, he talks as he thinks – that's why he pauses after every 3rd word (Letterman already had a bit on this that was very, very funny). It's all gray matter, the rest is air, spin and smiley face.

    June 25, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |

    Spoken like a rational man. A man who also happens to have two small daughters!

    I am in full agreement with him!

    June 25, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  10. Gene

    I couldn't agree more with Obama on this one. True.. it's not a life taken.. but sometimes it's even worse. There are so many problems that children have in their lives after an incident like that.. many of these lives are ruined... doomed to eternal therapy, ptsd, lacking of ability to connect with others... so maybe reprecutions that for some it's almost a fate worse than death.

    That guy in Austria (I think) who kept his daughter in the basement, raped her, made her have his children... if that guy doesn't get the death penalty.. I don't know who could possibly deserve it more.

    June 25, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  11. Former Republican supporting Obama

    I agree with Obama's statements on this matter. I ultimately respect decisions made by the U.S. Supreme, but I am having great difficulty with this recent decision. I just don't agree with the Court's decision. I think if an adult rapes a small child and depending on the severity of the crime, then the death penalty should be applicable.

    June 25, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  12. Frantz (Atlanta)

    Agreed! Spoken like true parent and a concerned citizen of America.

    June 25, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  13. Rowdyg

    I think he's wrong on this one. First of all, if it's going to be a crime punishable by death, it should be across the board. I know that child rape is a very heinous crime, but rape is rape regardless of age or sex or gender. We have to not let our emotions try and steer us.

    Obama should know being an African American, there was a time that blacks could be hanged for steaing, raping, or hitting a white person. That was the law. It's a crasp comparsion, but I think it gets my point across.

    If you can have people get life imprisonment for killing people, then why would you automatically put rape of a child on your execution list?

    I just dont agree. If you kill, you should be killed! especially if its the smoking gun, and proven beyone a reasonable doubt. Especially those that confesss. Charlie Manson should have been killed a long time ago!

    June 25, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  14. Tom

    Obama is siding with the victims and children's rights against the "pervert lobby". Let's hope this is the start of a trend. Good man, you got my vote!

    June 25, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  15. Ari

    I agree

    June 25, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  16. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Those FLDS members better look out.

    June 25, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  17. Word Smith

    I agree with Obama – the rape of a child IS heinous – and one of the most heartless crimes committed against innocent, helpless victims...

    June 25, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  18. Cathy

    I'm a huge Obama supporter...but I have to disagree with him on this point. There are murders who don't even get the death penalty. In no way am I not lessening the crime of rape of a child because it is absolutely horrible act but the death penalty seem excessive.

    Then again...if it was my child that was raped, I don't know what I would do...so on second thought......

    June 25, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  19. Louis

    Obama is right...I wonder what neocons will say–he doesn't sound very liberal on this issue

    June 25, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  20. Dorian in NC

    How can you not equate someone who murders to someone who rapes a little girl/boy. It's sick, and the States have a right to apply the death penalty for sick bastards!

    Finally, a way to deter sick minded people from doing this disgusting act!

    June 25, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  21. Advocate For Kids

    Obviously he's not afraid to speak frankly about a very serious subject. That's the kind of president we need.

    June 25, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |

    The whole thought of that man's crime sickens me. I fear more stupidity to follow as our country becomes more liberal!

    June 25, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  23. hmmmmm.....smells fishy

    If the court doesn't rule that way.......not only is the child raped but then the pedophile may kill the child.......knowing he is facing the death penalty regardless......so go Obama but I beg to differ

    June 25, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  24. Diane M of Los Angeles, CA

    Right On Obama! I agree! His position should appeal to the far right Evangelicals!

    June 25, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  25. Jason E

    This is, to say the least, very disappointing. I understand what an incredibly painful, horrifying experience this must be for any family to go through, but executing the perpatrator of the rape is not going to do anyone any good. As the world's number one jailer, and one of the very few first world nations that still executes it's citizens, this is just the sort of issue I had hoped Obama would take a fresh approach to. That he is so shamelessly pandering here is extremely upsetting. Coming fast on the heels of his FISA cave, it's making me think that perhaps I don't know him as well as I thought I did. Please, no more of this type of nonsense from the Obama campaign.

    June 25, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
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