Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty for people who commit sexual assault of a child is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s 8th Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the 5-4 majority opinion, saying “the death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child.” He was joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.
Last session, the Texas Legislature wasted a lot of time approving the death penalty as part of “Jessica’s Law” while failing to approve an Innocence Commission, but there were a few who got it right last session and they deserve mention today for their actions last Spring when they voted against “Jessica’s Bill” because of the death penalty provision.
During the debate on HB 8, there were several people who valiantly tried to amend the bill to improve it or who spoke eloquently on the floor against the death penalty provision in the bill, either today or last week, including Representatives Dutton, Turner and Hodge. Special thanks to them.
Thank you also to all the 24 members who voted against HB 8, mostly because of the death penalty provision. When the U.S. Supreme Court finds the death penalty in this bill unconstitutional, these members will be able to say “told you so”.
Allen; Bolton; Burnam; Castro; Cohen; Coleman; Davis, Y.; Dukes; Dutton; Farrar; Giddings; Hernandez; Hodge; Howard, D.; McClendon; Miles; Moreno; Naishtat; Olivo; Pickett; Puente; Rodriguez; Thompson; Turner.
A few members felt strongly enough to have their written objections recorded in the House Journal. Thank you for taking this extra step.
Rep Eddie Rodriguez wrote, “the implementation of the death penalty should be reserved for murderous crimes, and I believe that the United States Supreme Court would agree with me.”
In the Senate Rodney Ellis was the only dissenter in a 30-1 vote in favor of Jessica’s Law.