Justices Strike Death Penalty for Child Rape

Top court also trims $2.5B Exxon Valdez damages to $500M
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2008 10:19 AM CDT
Justices Strike Death Penalty for Child Rape
Beach cleanup after Exxon Valdez Oil Spill   (Earth Explorer)

The Supreme Court found today that the “death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child,” striking down a Louisiana law as cruel and unusual punishment. While the court split 5-4 on the hot-button issue—swing justice Anthony Kennedy penned the opinion—there has not been an execution in 44 years for a crime that didn’t involve a victim’s death.

The Supreme Court also issued a striking ruling in the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, cutting punitive damages by 80%—from $2.5 billion to $500 million. The court found that the company needn’t pay more in punitive damages than it had in real damages, the AP reports. A jury had originally set the punitive figure at $5 billion. (More US Supreme Court stories.)

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