SC death penalty ruling could be 'based on a mistake,' WH says

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White House press secretary Dana Perino this morning said the Justice Department is looking into whether the Supreme Court ruled mistakenly last week to exclude the death penalty for child rapists.

“The White House was disturbed by the New York Times report that the court’s decision might be based on a mistake, and if a federal statute was missed we would expect the Department of Justice would be looking at options that there might be to correct that error, and they are doing so,” Perino said.

The Justice Department is also investigating how it was that the solicitor general did not file a brief in the case, Kennedy v. Louisiana, Perino said.

The New York Times reported this morning that a military blogger, Dwight Sullivan, pointed out over the weekend that Justice Anthony Kennnedy’s ruling in Kennedy v. Louisiana was incorrect in asserting that there is no federal law recommending the death penalty in cases of child rape.

Sullivan pointed out, on his blog, CAAFlog, that the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, which was passed by Congress, did set out death as punishment for the rape of a child.

Jon Ward, White House correspondent, The Washington Times

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