Ruling on death penalty reveals ideological split

first_imgWASHINGTON – The Supreme Court upheld a state death penalty law on Monday in a splintered ruling that revealed deep division among the justices over the fairness of capital punishment in America. New Justice Samuel Alito had been called on to break a tie in the case, which was argued twice – first while Sandra Day O’Connor was still on the court and then this spring so that Alito could end a deadlock. The 5-4 outcome was as much a debate about capital punishment as it was a ruling on a unique law in Kansas, which has just eight Death Row inmates and hasn’t executed anyone in 40 years. The law says that juries should sentence a defendant to die – rather than serve life in prison – when the evidence for and against imposing death is equal. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the conservative majority, said “our precedents establish that a state enjoys a range of discretion in imposing the death penalty.” Justice David Souter, writing for the court’s liberals, said the law would lead to death sentences in doubtful cases and “is obtuse by any moral or social measure.” The ruling overturns a Kansas Supreme Court decision that found the law violated the Eighth Amendment’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment. Supporting Thomas, in addition to Alito, were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony M. Kennedy. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more