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Supreme Court bars execution of juvenile offenders

A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the U.S. Constitution bars the execution of juvenile offenders for crimes committed under the age of 18, sparing the life of a Choctaw man convicted of murder when he was 16.

In a 5-4 decision, the court overturned a 1989 ruling that upheld the death penalty for 16- and 17-year-old offenders. The majority cited shifting public sentiment against the execution of juveniles.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the opinion and was joined by John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor dissented and was joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Stephen McGilberry, a Choctaw man who grew up in Oklahoma, was on death row in Mississippi, The Native American Times reported. At age 16, he was convicted of murdering his mother, stepfather, half-sister and niece in 1994.

Get the Story:
Supreme Court decision spares the life of Choctaw from Oklahoma (The Native American Times 3/2)
5-4 Supreme Court Abolishes Juvenile Executions (The Washington Post 3/2)
Supreme Court, 5-4, Forbids Execution in Juvenile Crime (The New York Times 3/2)
Court Takes Another Step in Reshaping Capital Punishment (The New York Times 3/2)

Get the Decision Roper v. Simmons:
Syllabus | Opinion [Kennedy] | Concurence [Stevens] | Dissent [O'Connor] | Dissent [Scalia]

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