- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 26, 2008

CHICAGO (AP) | Democrat Barack Obama said Wednesday he disagrees with the Supreme Court’s decision outlawing executions of people who rape children, a crime he said states have the right to consider for capital punishment.

“I have said repeatedly that I think that the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances for the most egregious of crimes,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference. “I think that the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime and if a state makes a decision that under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that that does not violate our Constitution.”

The court’s 5-4 decision struck down a Louisiana law that allows capital punishment for people convicted of raping children under 12, saying it violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Mr. Obama said that had the court issued a narrow ruling that constrained how the death penalty could be applied “that would have been one thing. But it basically had a blanket prohibition and I disagree with that decision.”

In 1988, capital punishment tripped up Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, who gave a dispassionate and widely ridiculed answer when asked in one of the debates whether he would still oppose the death penalty if his wife were raped and murdered.

Mr. Obama’s Republican rival, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, also denounced the ruling, calling it “profoundly disturbing” that “there is a judge anywhere in America who does not believe that the rape of a child represents the most heinous of crimes, which is deserving of the most serious of punishments.”

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