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In Roper v. Simmons, a seventeen year old by the name of Simmons confessed that he plotted the murder and burglary of an older woman. This case placed the question before the Courts as to whether or not a person younger than eighteen years old should be punished with the death penalty when convicted of crimes that would typically mandated capital punishment.
The seventeen year old was originally sentenced to death for his crimes. This decision was later overturned by the Missouri Supreme Court and the defendant’s sentence was converted to life imprisonment. The Missouri Supreme Court stated that although there were cases that illustrated that there was a precedent set that allowed for capital punishment for those persons under the age of eighteen, that a ‘national consensus has developed against the execution of juvenile offenders’(2005). This case has since been heard by the United States Supreme Courts. Judicial activism and restraint are concepts that can be readily viewed in the Roper v. Simmons case when it was decided by the Supreme Court in March 2005.
The majority opinion addressed both the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments when considering the affirmation of the Missouri Supreme Court decision. The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment against those in the United States. The Fourteenth Amendment allows all citizens, even those that have committed heinous crimes, equal protection of the laws. Per the court’s opinion, neither the Eighth nor the Fourteenth Amendment disallows the use of the death penalty for either persons that are under the age of eighteen or that are deemed mentally retarded. The Court’s majority states that twenty-two of thirty-seven death penalty states permit the death penalty for the offenders that are sixteen years old. The same thirty-seven states permitted the death penalty for
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