Constitutional Questions

Bad News for PATRIOT Fans: And no, I’m not talking about football. A federal judge in Los Angeles has ruled that a key provision of the US PATRIOT Act is unconstitutional. The first court decision focused on the anti-civil-liberties law strikes down the portion of the act that forbids giving expert advice or assistance to groups designated as foreign terrorist organizations.

Meanwhile, the US Supreme Court will take up the question of whether state-sanctioned killing of juveniles is constitutional. From the New York Times:<blockquoteWith capital punishment for juvenile offenders falling rapidly into disuse across most of the country – only two such death sentences were imposed last year and jurors in Virginia rejected the death penalty for Lee Malvo, the teenage sniper whom they convicted of murder – the justices will consider whether there is now a national consensus of the sort the court discerned two years ago when it prohibited the execution of mentally retarded defendants.

The outcome is uncertain. Opponents of the death penalty have pressed the court for several years to reconsider a 1989 decision that upheld capital punishment for older teenagers; a decision in 1988 struck down the death penalty for those age 15 and younger.

Here’s hoping justice and good sense prevail — the death penalty is immoral in all instances. And the entire PATRIOT Act should go.

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