Patrick Kennedy 8th Amendment Research Paper

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In 2008, Patrick Kennedy was ruled guilty of raping and causing serious internal damage to his eight-year-old stepdaughter and was sentenced to death by a Louisiana court. The court sentenced death, saying that although the U.S. Supreme Court would not allow the death sentence for the rape of a woman, that did not apply if the victim was a child. The Louisiana Supreme Court argued that because five other states had similar laws, they could punish Kennedy with death. Kennedy brought the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the way five states interpreted the Eighth Amendment is not a “national consensus” and Coker v. Virginia should apply to all rapes. The Supreme Court ruled (5-4), that yes, the Eighth Amendment does not allow the death penalty for rape if the crime did not result in and was not intended …show more content…

The U.S Supreme Court’s syllabus of the cases states that “Rape’s permanent and devastating impact on a child suggests moral grounds for questioning a rule barring capital punishment simply because the crime did not result in the victim’s death, but it does not follow that death is a proportionate penalty for child rape.” (Kennedy v. Louisiana). Although Kennedy did internally damage his stepdaughter, the death penalty would remain seen as a cruel and unusual punishment. Also, Patrick Kennedy did not intend to kill his step-daughter, another reason why the death penalty would be an inappropriate punishment for his actions. The Court concluded “that there is a distinction between intentional first-degree murder on the one hand and nonhomicide crimes against individuals, even including child rape, on the other” (Kennedy v. Louisiana). Since Kennedy did not mean kill or intend to kill his step-daughter, the death penalty would have been an excessive punishment for child rape. This supports the fact that the Supreme Court made the correct

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