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

Obama splits with Supreme Court on rape executions

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/25/art.obamachicago.ap.jpg caption="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. Another ignorant opinion

    Hundreds of comments, and not one from anyone who actually read the Supreme Court opinions. How about this fact, from the majority:

    Four out of five child rapes are never reported to the police at all. Why? Because it is usually a family member who is the perpetrator, and the rest of the family, while perhaps upset and angry, don't want their relative going to jail. The child might even feel guilty about getting Uncle Joe locked up, on top of everything else the child is going through.

    Now add in the death penalty. How much harder will families work to cover up the abuse, knowing that their deranged cousin/uncle/brother could be executed? How much more guilt would the victimized child feel? The death penalty would make no difference except to drive this crime further underground. Before you lash out in anger, take a minute to think about the real world consequences of your opinions.

    June 25, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  2. J.C.

    I am against death penalty, but such a sex criminal act against a child should be dealt with heavily. Instead of death penalty, there was an old penalty for this in many parts of the world, which was to castrate the convicted criminal. But I am not sure if castration will stop the crime for good. Just my 2 cents!

    June 25, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  3. Raymond Duke

    I find that interesting since he didn't have no problems with giving terriost the same rights as americans. I believe he is trying the old game to see if he can pick up some conservative democrat votes and republican votes on an emotional crime as child rape . I have no problem with it. Here in texas we kind of like getting rid of the slugs to society. In kenya about a month ago they burned 13 people to death for being witches. You know that Kenya is thought of as being one of the most progressive african nations. Since old dad was supposedly a Kenyan and cnn was doing that special on how proud they were of their home boy maybe he should negioate with them to stop that stuff.

    June 25, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  4. Inga

    I am a woman now 58 who was raped when I was 11. I am a huge supporter of Obama and his point of view on the death penalty will not change my mind about him. I think it is a very personal choice. I don't believe in the death penalty for anyone – I believe in rehabilitation.

    June 25, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  5. Michael

    I honestly do not see how anyone can disagree with what Obama is saying about this ruling. It boggles the mind that people would think that a man who rapes a child should live. The Supreme Court should be ashamed of itself. I am not a huge supporter of the death penalty, however I do believe there should be crimes where it should apply and this is one.

    I believe the Supreme Court and their supreme stupidity just opened a Pandora's Box with this ruling. Sleep well judges, you just put our children in jeopardy, thanks for nothing.

    June 25, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  6. Kentucky

    I think giving the states the right to decide death penalties would have sent a real threat to pediphiles. But the root of the problem runs deeper. This country has lost its morals. People used to have the fear of God. No one cares anymore about what is right and what is wrong.
    I am actually sick of hearing about OBAMA, you people follow him like its some kind of cult..sickens me... I might actually agree with the guy on a few issues if Obama backers were not so rude.
    I am a Kentuckian that CNN and Obama supporters bash.. I have an education, 37 and working towards my third degree to be exact! and I am a Christian.. so CNN and OBAMA supporters think I have no rights! I call that descrimination! Stop acting so childish and grow up!

    June 25, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  7. MDR

    As the father of a 6 month old daughter I agree with Obama 100%. I'm glad he stood on his morals and spoke how he truly feels.

    June 25, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
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