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Roper V. Simmons: An Examination Of The Supreme Courts Role

3102 words - 12 pages

Roper v. Simmons is a perfect example of the evolving role of the Supreme Court, the sources the Supreme Court used to reach the ruling in this case is quite questionable. While I agree with the Supreme Court about protecting the younger citizens of America the Supreme Court must have the law to back up their ruling. Though in this case they do not the Supreme Court used a combination of foreign policy, moral decency, and state laws as the legal foundation for this decision. None of these things are appropriate sources for deciding what is constitutional and what is not. The sources used for deciding the constitutionality of a case are the constitution and federal statues. While the case can be loosely tied in with the eighth amendment clause of “cruel and unusual punishment” there is no backing for the decision made. The Supreme Court with this case decided that it did not overturn the previous case of Stanford v. Kentucky, which ruled on this same issue fifteen years earlier. Yet the court stated that the prevailing moral code had altered therefore they changed their opinion. The truly shocking issue with this is that the neither law nor constitution had changed regarding this issue in the interceding fifteen years. The grave problem with this case is that the Supreme Court used the case of Roper V. Simmons to create law based of invalid sources.
`Roper v. Simmons is a case involving the sentencing of death to juvenile offenders. The case involved Chris Simmons who was seventeen years old when he committed murder. Simmons had entered the home of a woman named Shirley Crook. Simmons then tied the Crook up before he ultimately threw her off a bridge. Crook was alive when Simmons threw her off the bridge after covering her face with duct-tape. She drowned in the water below. Simmons was arrested soon after he committed the crime. Simmons had admitted to committing murder to the police. Simmons had recruited a friend to help him before the crime evening saying to the friend they would “get away with it because they were minors (Roper v. Simmons , 2004).” The premise of Simmons argument was that because he was a minor when he committed the crime that sentencing him to death was a violation of the eighth amendment cruel and unusual punishment clause. Simmons asserted that sentencing of juvenile to death was a violation of the eighth amendment because he as a minor had diminished culpability. The argument was that minors have less developed brains and therefore lack the ability to assess to consequences of their actions. Another argument asserted was that juveniles need less punishment to reform actions than adults. This argument was used to assert that juveniles needed lesser sentences otherwise the other goals of justice were superseded by the punishment factor (Roper v. Simmons , 2004). The four goals of justice are deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation and retribution. Therefore rendering adult sentences on juveniles was...

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