Roper v. Simmons 543 U.S. 551 (2005)

Christopher Simmons was 17 years old when him and one friend intruded into someones home and tied the homeowner up. Proceeding to take the victim to a local state park and covering their face and restrain her arms and legs. Then, Simmons and his friend pushed the victim into the water. Later on Simmons was arrested from his high school. After being told that his friend had testified against and he would be sentenced to death, Simmons confessed to doing the crime.

The case was sent as an appeal to many federal courts and state courts, but all were denied. With the case Atkins v. Virginia being concluded that it was inhuman to punish mentally disabled citizens, the Missouri Supreme Court then reconsidered Simmons case.

Arguments for the respondent (Christopher Simmons):

  • That Simmons was "very immature" and was "easily influenced".
  • Simmons had a very uneasy home environment and schooling.
  • Simmons had no earlier convictions of crime or wrong doings.
  • Violated amendment eight.

Arguments for the petitioner (Donald Roper): In efforts to lower the death penalty age for Simmons

  • Other states have no minimum age or lower than the age of 17 for death penalty.
  • The 8th amendment does from refer to death penalty for minors.
  • Other cases, like Stanford v Kentucky, fought for death penalty for minors.

On March 1st, 2005, after getting a 4-5 vote, Anthony Kennedy announced the majority decision he wrote. Those who joined were; Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer. The opinion stated that it violated the 8th amendment sentencing a minor with the death penalty.

John Stevens wrote the concurring opinion, joined by Ginsburg, which agreed with Kennedy. That those who wrote the 8th amendment was intended to protect minors from unusual punishments.

Sandra O'Connor wrote a dissent, saying that she did agree with the vote. She did agree that anyone under the age of 17 could be penalized with a capital punishment because they are not mature enough. O'Connor gave reasons as to why she believed some, if not most, 15, 16, and 17 year old were mature enough to understand their committed crime and the punishment that could come along with it.

The Roper v. Simmons case added to amendment eight. Adding to it that giving minors a capital punishment is cruel.

This change affects not only my friends and family under the age of the 17 but, also any U.S. minor. Protecting them from a cruel capital punishment.

Credits:

Created with images by zdulli - "supreme court us supreme court states"

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