My representative, Del. Rob Bell, just gave a brief speech on the importance of killing children.
The Supreme Court recently ruled in Roper v. Simmons that it is illegal for the state to impose the death penalty on children. This seems like common sense to me. Can you imagine the outrage if, say, Iran put a juvenile to death? President Bush would hold this up as evidence of their barbarism, and he’d be right. But the issue of morality aside, the Supreme Court has made their ruling, and it is no longer legal to put anybody under the age of 18 to death.
Rep. Vince Callahan (R-McLean) has introduced a bit of housekeeping legislation, HB 45, that would change Virginia law to change the minimum age for the death penalty from 16 to 18. This is a no-brainer. After all, if a jury did sentence a juvenile to death, it would be thrown out on appeal, because it’s illegal. The law is wrong, and so it should be fixed.
Apparently, it’s not such a no-brainer. Del. Bell prefaced his comments with the helpful explanation that he is speaking “on behalf of real people,” which cleared up whether he was representing mannequins or crash-test dummies. He went on to say that sometimes children do really bad things, and, consequently, we ought to kill them. He brushed aside the minor matter of the Supreme Court by saying that, hey, maybe they’ll change their mind on this. They’re fickle, that Supreme Court.
After Del. Bell spoke, Del. Dave Albo (R-Fairfax) explained that he, too, supports killing children and that he, too, is opposed to the Supreme Court decision. But he concluded that the high court’s ruling leaves no question that the Virginia law is inaccurate, and so it must be corrected.
Reasonable minds may disagree on the matter of the juvenile death penalty. (I don’t actually believe that. It’s a rhetorical device.) But reasonable minds may not disagree on whether Virginia’s laws must be within the bounds of U.S. laws.