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Justices to grapple with guns, crime
There are 106 juvenile offenders in the U.S. serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for crimes other than murder, according to the brief. Seventy-seven of those juveniles were sentenced in Florida.
Arguments that such punishments are unconstitutional follows a 5-4 ruling in a case known as Roeper v. Simmons that said the death penalty could not be imposed on juveniles.
Mr. Gray, the Maryland law professor, said the majority decision in the Roeper case, which was written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, examined how other countries address juveniles and the death penalty. Justice Kennedy noted that only seven countries other than the U.S. allowed juveniles to be sentenced to death: Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, Congo and China.
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote what Mr. Gray termed a “stinging” dissent, in which he criticized Justice Kennedy’s use of other countries’ laws.
Subsequently, the use of international laws in addressing questions related to the U.S. Constitution became a subject of considerable debate in legal circles and arose during the confirmation hearings of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Justice Sotomayor.
Mr. Gray predicts that however the Graham case is determined, Justice Kennedy will write an opinion citing international law and Justice Scalia will write one attacking the use of international law.
In a matter involving a lighter topic, the court will hear the case of a cap manufacturer that claims the National Football League has violated antitrust laws by selling to one company, Reebok, the exclusive rights to sell officially licensed apparel from all 32 teams.
The issues in the case - known as American Needle Inc. v. NFL - seem to come up about every 10 years involving one or another professional sports league, Mr. Gray said. American Needle wants to be able to negotiate deals with individual teams.
“It’s always funny because in these cases you get to see a little bit underneath the robes, so to speak …. Because they have a light air to them, they are a little bit more fun than the average cases,” Mr. Gray said. “If you really wanted me to go way out on a limb, I would say the majority opinion will be written by Chief Justice Roberts, and it will be hilarious. Which way it will go, I don’t know.”
About the Author
Ben Conery is a member of the investigative team covering the Supreme Court and legal affairs. Prior to coming to The Washington Times in 2008, Mr. Conery covered criminal justice and legal affairs for daily newspapers in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He was a 2006 recipient of the New England Newspaper Association’s Publick Occurrences Award for a series of articles about ...
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