The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down a Louisiana law that allows the execution of people convicted of a raping a child.
The 5-4 ruling says the Louisiana law violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, quote, "The death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child."
Kennedy's four liberal colleagues joined in his opinio, while the four more conservative justices dissented.
There hasn't been an execution in the United States for a crime that didn't also involve the death of the victim in 44 years.
Texas joined the short list of states that sought the death penalty in some child rape cases in 2007. The Legislature approved the death penalty for offenders twice convicted of raping children under 14, although legal experts predicted then it would be unconstitutional.
The bill was a key initiative of Republican Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, who presides over the Texas Senate.
Victim advocates warned that the death penalty could do more harm than good if it prompted perpetrators to kill victims who may be the only witness to the crime.