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. DJ in TX

    People that hurt children should be subject to the death penalty, expecially raping one. They should never see the light of day. I have no sympathy. Hell, I'm even for expanding to adults, but definitely child rapists.

    I agree with Senator Obama. The state of Louisiana voted for it, they should have the right to do it.

    June 25, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  2. Saad from NJ

    Good man Obama. How can these 5 judges in their true conscious, if they have one, vote for letting someone who has raped a child and ruined his/her life live? How? Maybe they would vote opposite if it their own child was a victim.

    Alito wrote that the majority ruled against the death penalty "no matter how young the child, no matter how many times the child is raped, no matter how many children the perpetrator rapes, no matter how sadistic the crime, no matter how much physical or psychological trauma is inflicted and no matter how heinous the perpetrator's criminal record may be." WHAT?????

    June 25, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  3. Tom

    Since he's willing to state his position on this decision, I'll be interested on his take on the DC 2nd amendment case being released later this month.

    June 25, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  4. Sayles

    The only reason he's saying this is to curry favor with Conservatives. This isn't his position. Know how I know that? Because he doesn't HAVE any positions! Obamabots...wake up before it's too late!

    June 25, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  5. wiser

    So, Senator Obama you are pretending to be conservative now! I guess you threw your liberal friends under the bus.

    Who will you throw tomorrow? I guess only your pollsters know.

    Democrats for McCain!

    June 25, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  6. Ula Nejad- Sacramento Ca

    Wow! I told you so! I can see the Dems cringe....hahahaha.

    June 25, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  7. Bryan

    I hope all of you realize that the 5 who voted to strike it down were all liberal and the 4 that voted for it were conservatives, including the justices that Bush appointed.

    Why does Obama and his imps not stick with the facts. It boggles my mind.


    June 25, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  8. Darth Vadik, CA

    Death penalty should be abolished.
    With the exception of China and Russia we are the only western world that has the death penalty. Get over it, and stop trying to be macho, specially since the number of people executed is majority black (in Texas), and I'm white.


    for you, the ones that thing its OK to kill another human being (by the government) YOU ARE WRONG.

    They will pay their price in jail.

    June 25, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  9. Fred

    Election time! This is different on average earlier positions.

    June 25, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  10. Belle2

    Obama is once again singing to his choir. The pedophiles certainly deserve to be hung up by their toes and tortured to death. However, if they are going to get the death penalty for the rape, they might as well commit murder as well. How many children would we be sentencing to death if we gave pedophiles the death penalty. Many pedophiles kill their victims to prevent being caught. The death penalty would exacerbate the problem.

    June 25, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  11. Linda

    a parent speaking

    June 25, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  12. Anne in Texas

    I don't agree. I believe he is moving towards the center and trying to appeal to conservatives with this opinion. I think the supreme court is basically is applying an eye for an eye standard to the death penalty, and I think that is rational.
    Once you say the death penalty is appropriate for child sexual abuse, you have to start defining what constitutes abuse...would molestation justify? If the adult were just 18? Would what happened in Minoeola, TX recently with the child sex shows, would that justify the death penalty?

    The death penalty doesn't deter, it is more expensive than life imprisonment with all the appeals that tax payers end up funding.
    The rapist will most definitely get an eye for an eye standard once he 's inside the cell.
    I am not trying to be insensitive to those who have suffered abuse, but rationally, taking this man's life costs more and gives us nothing.

    Oddly enough, I agree on Obama with almost everything else and will be voting for him in November.

    June 25, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  13. Anita from Arizona

    Here Here Obama!! He is speaking as a father on this issue and not as a politician trying to appease his constituents. That's what we need, straight talk. Mr. Supreme Court Judge Kennedy, swing vote on this issue, needs to be removed.

    Remember, that guy is 6'5" weighs 300 lbs and brutally raped a 8 yr old girl who weights less than 75 lbs so bad, she had to have emergency surgery and the emotional damage done, she will never be right in the head again. I'm still in shock.....

    June 25, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  14. Gary, Charlottesville, VA


    First of all, rape is not rape regardless of age or gender. Rape of a minor is called statutory rape. Granted, there can be differences with regards to consent between the two charges, but at any rate the law does make a distinction between rape of a minor and rape of an adult.

    Second, if you re-read what Obama said, he is not advocating automatically putting a child rapist on the execution list. He is saying that states should have the option available to them, if they deem it necessary on a case by case basis.

    Not arguing, just clarifying.

    June 25, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  15. Pat Riot

    I'm surprised that he took this position. Being that he doesn't care about a child's rights pre-birth.

    June 25, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  16. Rave

    Mr. Obama thinks for real people and stands up for real problems.
    Only the parents of a 8 year old would understand how henious this crime is.... I would say worse than a MURDER. Execute Them.
    What happened to you conservatives now... looks like you have become the SOFTIES... you were always SOFTIES going after little things and leaving real problems aside
    OBAMA (2008 -16)

    June 25, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  17. Mike in Calgary

    If PARTIAL BIRTH KILLING is OK with OBAMA, then what's wrong with the Death Penalty -- Oh wait – Illinois has a Moratorium on the Death Penalty because of the large number of innocent men convicted and sentenced to death - the Innocence Project and all – and Obama prides himself on the issue of wrongful convictions.

    PS An innocent Man who plea bargained to RAPE was proven INNOCENT in Toronto, Ontario. Can the Justice System be trusted? Look at the Injustice perpetrated in Chicago against Conrad Black! The Justice System is screwed up with prosecutorial abuse, Good thing Nancy Grace is no longer in the Courtroom.


    June 25, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  18. Concerned Citizen, IN

    Just to point out after the first two comments, it was the five "liberal" judges on the court that wrote the majority opinion. The four conservatives wanted to let him die. I am no fan of Bush, but one more conservative justice on the court and the decision would have went the other way.

    I happen to agree with the minority decision in this case. The rape of a child is henious, and the pain these children must endure for the rest of their lives is quite possibly worse than if they were killed in the act.

    June 25, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  19. Beverly, NYC

    Vig, I know it a novelty to possibly have a president who thinks before running his mouth but even a dim bulb like you will get used to it.

    June 25, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  20. Allison R.

    Rowdyg–Rape is not rape. Read about the young girls who are raped and can't ever walk right again because their entire (still growing and fragile) pelvic girdle is broken or crushed. Rape is terrible no matter what the age–but to a young child who cannot understand the act and who is not just emotionally, but often physically scarred for life, the act is much worse. I am not sure how I feel about the death penalty personally, but cheers to Obama for speaking his mind and not pandering. We need an honest president for a change.

    June 25, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  21. Souza

    Obama is just saying what is popular.
    The child did not die as a result of the rape. If Rape of a child could include execution then it would put the stress on the child to be responsible for the persons death.
    Children do not need the additional damage that would cause.
    I was raped as a child and with therapy I have put it behind me.

    June 25, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  22. GO AWAY!!!!!

    puff ...............There he is pointing his finger again. You know where you can stick your finger .............I rather he use his FOOT,NOW TURN AROUND!!!!!

    June 25, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  23. Allan

    his bla bla bla blqa and nothing else.I don't trust him at all.His bodys tell a lot.

    June 25, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  24. A Latte Lover, Seattle, WA

    I'm really surprised that Obama took this stance. That said, I totally agree. I can't think of a worse or more disgusting crime than raping or molesting a child!! Good for Obama. Like I say, he surprised me on this one!

    June 25, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  25. Reality



    OBAMA 2008 !!!

    June 25, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
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