June 25th, 2008
04:47 PM ET
6 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. Texas Trail Dog

    Besides one more step you should go. You should also include that all rapist of no matter what age should be put to death. I am tired as hades reading about some teenager to a grandmother being raped and murdered. This must stop. The only way to do it is to make them pay with their lives.

    June 25, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  2. Karen Beaumont, TX

    Obama seems to understand the Constitution better than our Supreme Court but then he WAS a constitutional law professor. The Constitution says that cruel and unusual punishment cannot be administered. If the death penalty isn't considered cruel and unusual then states should be able to apply it where the state seems fit. I do not support the death penalty (if we kill someone and later find out they are innocent-and yes, this has happened, we can't dig them up and say "oh, I'm sorry"). Better to lock someone up just in case. But Obama does have it right on this one. It should be up to the states how they apply the death penalty.
    Of course, the death penalty could be deemed by the courts a "cruel and unusual punishment" in any case and then that would settle the matter.

    June 25, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  3. Stan

    child rape is not a Democratic or Republican issue. everyone should be outraged that we allow heinous acts like this to go unpunished. however since there is no money or power to be gained in trying to discourage it, nothing will ever change. everyine can talk the talk on the campaign trail, but sure enough once in office no one does anything unless theres money involved.

    June 25, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  4. 58 old white ladies for OBAMA

    WE ABSOLUTELY DISAGREE WITH THE SUPREME COURT.

    WE WOULD RATHER HAVE THE DEATH PENALTY

    FOR CHILD MOLESTER THAN ANY MURDERER WE

    CAN THINK OF.THIS SHAMEFUL DECISION IS A TELLING

    OF A CULTURE THAT DOESN'T TAKE IT'S CHILDREN

    AS SERIOUSLY AS IT SHOULD.

    June 25, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  5. Daniel Wagle

    Just like I disagreed with Bill Clinton on the death penalty, I strongly disagree with Barack Obama on this. I am opposed to the death penalty under all circumstances, but I also think his reasoning leads to a slippery slope where people could be executed for many offenses that do not involve murder. My United Methodist Church strongly opposes the death penalty for all offenses, one reason of which is that NO PERSON is beyond redemption. Even the pope could forgive the person who tried to shoot him.

    June 25, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  6. bec

    as usual obama's going for emotion over logic. he got the gitmo case wrong and he's got this one wrong. as a law student, he should know that the SC couldn;t rele the other way based on law.

    if we were to punish every crimal based on the negative effects their actions have on their victims, we'd be doing a lot worse to all of our criminals than just letting them sit in jail cells. but that would be considered cruel and unusual.

    and if it were an eye for an eye, then we couldn't punish "victimless crimes" such as drugs, dwi and other motor vehicle laws, prostitution, etc.

    June 25, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  7. David Goldman for OBAMA

    SHAME, MUCH SHAME ON THE SUPREME COURT.

    I APPOSE THE DEATH PENALTY, BUT AS LONG AS WE

    HAVE IT, A CHILD MOLESTER IS A PERFECT CANDIDATE.

    June 25, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  8. Karen

    I have agood friens whose stepfather sexually abused her from age 8-15 when she ran away from home.This shaped the way she acted her whole adult life. She is finally undergoing the slow painful process of bringing out all these hidden fears and dealing with them she is now 44. It breaks my heart to see her like this. My personal opinion, and cnn probably won't print it, is full castration for these sick individuals.

    June 25, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  9. Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA

    I THINK IF YOU HAD THE DEATH PENALTY FOR ANY

    OFFENSE, IT SHOULD BE FOR A CHILD MOLESTER

    THAT WAS A DISHONORABLE VOTE.

    June 25, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  10. INDEPENDENT for OBAMA

    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! DITTO!!!!!!!

    I feel your PAIN!!!!!!!

    June 25, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  11. Tricia

    Some people seem unable to listen or read details. Obama is talking about the rape of small children and specific circumstances. Ugly stuff. Again he is showing he has ideas and sticks to them. Read his ideas on his webpage. It's good to see some people realizing that Obama is not a left-wing liberal on many issues.

    June 25, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  12. RJ, CA

    Don’t Forget Obama's IL Voting Record
    In 1999, Barack Obama was faced with a difficult vote in IL — to support a bill that would let some juveniles be tried as adults - where he risked drawing fire from African-Americans – or, in opposing it, jeopardizing his image as “tough on crime.” So in the end, he voted neither for nor against the bill. He voted “present” - an option he chose 130 times as a state senator.

    June 25, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  13. Bryan

    Hah! Earl, the 2 people Bush put in there are John Roberts & Samuel Alito. They both voted in favor of the death penalty for child rapists. Do your research before you make a comment

    June 25, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  14. Rick

    For this time in my adult life I am really proud of our Supreme Court.

    June 25, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  15. Ryan L

    I think Obama took this stance from his heart, not because it was popular. Everyone's talking about unifying the Democrats, and yet he stated on behalf of the death penalty which is wildly unpopular with many of the liberal base of the Democratic party. I think he meant what he said about this.

    June 25, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  16. MissClarity

    For the molested who decided they actually liked it after all and went back for more and continue to fein victim and for the molester your nightengale song should stop just before understanding the plight of the truly molested and/or truly raped victims. There's a judge down in Florida who was very sympathic with a molester (probably admired the molester for living out his fantasys and the judge didn't have the nerve to act out – I hear the judge was breathing heavily during the court proceedings) and he let the guy go only for him to molest, bury alive a sweet neighbor girl – REMEMBER. In that case the judge should be executed as an accomplise.

    Obama is a decent man and if he pauses it's because he a thoughtful, kind man and selects his words carefully concerning something so vile. But for Berkeleyoffs, everythings cool with them 'cause they inhale and think it's all good. Sober minds have the credentials for comment and anything else is just more of the Berkeleyoffs getting off.

    Whatever,

    June 25, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  17. Bishop

    NO PEOPLE THIS IS NOT A GIMMICK!!! JUST RELAX!! MANY DEM/REP AGREE/DISAGREE ON THIS...

    June 25, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  18. MrHapiGuy

    Sorry. I just do not see how anyone who hurts a child in this way could possibly be considered sane. These people should be locked in a high-security, mental health facility for life. Remove them from society forever and study the monsters to figure out how we can stop growing them.

    June 25, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  19. Boris

    Great...

    Rape of a child is a heinous crime, but rape of an adult... isn't? Excuse me?!??

    June 25, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  20. Irishspacemonk

    For any who are questioning Obama's stance on this...could it be because he has daughters and the idea that this would happen to one of them is heinous? Perhaps this would give pause to rapists before they act.

    June 25, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  21. ANTI CLINTON

    I don't agree with Obama on any issues, but this one I do.

    June 25, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  22. Leonard

    Jason you are wrong, Illinois never overturn the death sentence, what happen is the former governor Ryan put moratorium on death penalty in order to reform the system that was corrupted and hanging the wrong people

    June 25, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  23. Dems

    What about killing late term fetuses? Or babies that survive abortion attempts? Obama voted against legislation that would have banned the killing of a baby that survived an abortion and also against a ban on partial birth abortions.

    What about that Obama?

    Hypocrite and fraud.

    June 25, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  24. Joe - Chicago, IL

    There he goes again with his ultra left wing pro death penalty stance.

    June 25, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  25. KCBob

    I split with Obama on this case..I do not feel the state has a right to kill its citizens for any reason. There have been to many innocent lives ruined by false convictions and its just a can of worms that should be closed. Let countries like china and iran treat its people like cattle...this is America.

    I do however support the Idea of Castration for these types of "people".

    I still support Obama though, even if I think he is wrong here.

    June 25, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
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