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. Dylan, Pennsylvania

    You just gained ground with me Barack Obama.

    Any person who rapes a child should be put to death.

    There is no crime worse than harming our babies and our youth.

    June 25, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  2. Mike in Calgary

    Re Independent Catholic woman against death penalty who would make exception for pedophiles – is she really RC and is she really against the death penalty? They came for the pedophiles, and then the homosexuals, and then the .....

    Emotion overrules principle .... that's why we have separation of powers in constitutions!


    June 25, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  3. President Hillary Clinton

    Judges should campaign and get elected just like members of the other branches of government.

    June 25, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  4. Sylvia

    I'm with Obama on this one! And those Justices that voted for it.

    June 25, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  5. DC


    What are you talking about? The four dissenting opinions were appointed by:

    GW Bush
    GW Bush
    GHW Bush
    R Reagan

    June 25, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  6. Franky

    I gotta say, I'm surprised and I like it!

    June 25, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  7. Franky

    "No nonsense straight talk. Want an answer, here it is: He endorses the Death Penalty. I like him more and more every day."

    LOL!!!! That's funny coming from you...LOL!!

    June 25, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  8. Kool Kid

    I wonder how many of you bleeding heart liberals would agree with this had it come out of the mouth of John McCain. Do you hear the crickets?

    June 25, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  9. Debate Question

    This should be the first queston they ask during a debate with McCain.

    I like it, he answered a tough question in a tough world. We have to say resoundly that if you rape a child, you will pay for it.

    June 25, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  10. sue

    This is incredibly disappointing. The death penalty is NEVER right. Obama is wrong AGAIN.

    June 25, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  11. roger

    i agree with obama.

    June 25, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  12. Jan

    He is sooooooooooo right. Obama is playing to the whites and to the blacks. I can't wait for the real Obama to stand up. I think America you might be surprise and somewhat dissapointed. And yes I'm Black.

    June 25, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  13. Samantha in Seattle, WA

    thanks obama; i can't wait until you are president and we get more justices on the supreme court worried about children's well being. The rape/molestation/abuse of a child is one of the worst crimes possible and should definitly be punished by death–no questions asked.

    June 25, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  14. ShirleyY - Seattle

    I dont believe in the death penalty, but anyone that harm a small child in anyway, should be dealt with severely without hesitation. If the death penalty is the results, so be it. This man was 6'6 300 pounds on a daily basis raping this little girl, she will emotionally and physically be harmed for the rest of her life. He has left her for dead, she will never be able to have her own kids, becasue this monster destroyed her womb. Put him in prison so Big Bob can get him and show him it feels to get raped over and over. I think the dealth penalty is to easy, they dont deserve to die right away, they should be tortured like they do their victims.

    June 25, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  15. Jamie

    That's why we call this politics. There is such a thing as morally correct and politically correct. Same with abortion. If the lady was raped and became pregnant would abortion be OK? If so where would she get an abortion since most hospitals will not perform abortions except to save the life of the mother. It becomes political because sometimes you have to afford the privilage to the many to protect the few. The childs life will be changed forever in any case but the child would be plagued to a greater degree when she has to explain to her kid who her father is and such. Along with that how would her kid's life be changed nowing that she was also a victim of rape? It's like telling your kid he/she was a mistake. Which is worse torture?

    We all want to stay firm to our morals but you have to put the politics of it into account. Sometimes the easy thing to say such as Obama has in this case appeals to our morals but in this case the childs life may be taken because the person faces the same penalty as if he would have killed the person. Which is worse?

    Sometimes you have to weigh your morals with the practicallity of the possible outcome. If you get so tied up in them that you are unwilling to be open minded to reality then you could be creating a greater evil.

    June 25, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  16. Jerry in Fresno

    The death sentence is not a penalty. It is a way to avoid punishment. Life imprisonment is a better punisment for cases like these.

    The death penaly should be abolished because too many mistakes are made, intentionally and unintentionally. Innocent people get trapped in the unjust application of the law.

    If you are vindictive or sadistic and think the death penalty is appropriate, try this experiment. Experience solitary confinment and then imagine you are dead, which case meets your thirst for vengance?

    June 25, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  17. Teddy California

    It is interesting to notice that Obama sided with the four conservative judges on this issue. I think he is afraid some people will say he is too soft on crimes.

    June 25, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  18. Steve in Sherman Oaks

    Bad facts make bad law. This case is unquestionably heinous and no one will shed a single tear for this creep, even me and I oppose the death penalty. But if the death penalty is allowed for rape here, some prosecutors somewhere will push it and try to apply it in lesser cases. Then were do we stop? This ruling is consistent with the prevailing view worldwide on the deah penalty.

    June 25, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  19. Jen

    I agrre with Rowdyg. Although the rape of a child is completely disgusting, awful, and heart breaking, I believe that the death penalty should only be applied to thos who kill.

    June 25, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  20. Jamie

    Obama says no to the electric chair and then says yes to the death penalty for rape victims? Sounds like a waffle to me.

    June 25, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  21. Issee

    He just got my vote, and I'm a Republican.

    June 25, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Just made up my mind...

    voting obama

    June 25, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  23. Evin

    Totally agree... what if it was your kid?

    June 25, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  24. ANON

    Like the whole Roe v Wade thing, the defendents are able to use the rulings of the past to help their client avoid the death penalty.

    first time ever i have thought that Obama had some substance. he spends his whole time getting his back up over every little commetn (even though its OK for him to speak freely), for once he's shown some backbone.

    June 25, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  25. kim

    to puff:
    barack obama was right on point. what do you mean "THERE HE GOES POINTING THE FINGER"? YES child rape is a horrible crime against a defenseless little person who for the most part trust grown-ups. but to kill someone especially if the child survived is as barbaric as anything i could even imagine. put him in jail for the rest of his life. i think killing someone is too easy. let them suffer day and nite in prison. as far as where he can stick his finger - i won't even respond to such an offensive remark.

    June 25, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
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