Talk:Roper v. Simmons

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... since warden Roper was appealing from the Missouri Supreme Court to the SCOTUS, the case is styled Roper v. Simmons. Note that in these cases the naming of the warden as a party-litigant is a legal fiction - the state is represented by its attorney general or similar officer.

I'm not exactly sure how to work this into the article. Ellsworth 22:32, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The style of this article is a bit weird -- reads like it was cut and pasted out of the New York Times -- although there are also a few grammatical errors that preclude a direct copy. 03:06, 3 Mar 2005 (UTC)

this is not about a "juvenille death sentence."[edit]

The united states hasn't put to death a minor since 1938. The issue, unlike what's asserted here in several places, is capitol punishment for those who committ crimes when they're under age.


I made a few changes to clarify the practical aspect of the issue as per last comment. As a side comment, I don't think the potential for the death penalty has been much if any deterrent for contemporary murderers under 18. Most seem to have little concern for their future. The prospect for life in prison without possibility of parole might even be a stronger attention-getter. Its a shame we Virginia taxpayers will pay to house beltway sniper Lee Boyd Malvo for the rest of his natural life, but its a worthy investment considering the alternative. Red Onion is our equivalent of Siberia, and is closer to Louisville, Kentucky than it is to Richmond. Vaoverland 17:53, Mar 3, 2005 (UTC)

I second the previous point regarding the death penalty as a deterrent for murders under 18. I think Justice Anthony Kennedy made a passing mention to that issue. As for the facts relating to Lee Boyd Malvo's case, a quick fact check turns up that his plea in October 2004, was in fact in the Spotsylvania County, Virginia case. --Aude 18:32, 3 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I appreciate the correction. They did so many crimes in so many places it is not hard to be confused. Vaoverland 18:47, Mar 3, 2005 (UTC)

thanks for being congenial[edit]

these topics can get flaming hot really quickly, and i honestly do appreciate your attitude!


This article presents the case in favour of the decision quite well, but it doesn't talk about why this might be a bad thing. The controversiality of the vote should be proof enough that there is a flip side worth discussing. Will anyone add this? Deco 0Proxy-Connection: keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0

34, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Please feel free to expand the articleProxy-Connection: keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0

nd discuss the dissenting opinion in some more detail. I think the main considerations by the dissent include:

  • Scalia generally favors state's rights to make decisions regarding issues such as capital punishment.
    • He specifically debated the numbers, in considering the number of states that have the death penalty for offenders who committed capital offenses when they were under 18 years of age.
  • He also opposes taking guidance from foreign laws, in interpreting the U.S. Constitution. - --Aude 14:38, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)

To add a few more things that should be worked in:

  • Scalia and O'Connor: Between the 1989 Stanford case and this case, a mere four states changed their laws; ergo, saying that a "national consensus" that did not exist in 1989 has emerged since then is bordering on silly.
  • Scalia: Pointing to a treaty that the U.S. has deliberately not ratified as evidence is suspect, as it seems to imply that the Court has the power to effectively ratify the treaty itself, or at least to bring its provisions into force.
  • Scalia: The majority opinion claims that the Eighth Amendment is to be interpreted in the light of "evolving standards of decency", and also claims that the Court itself should consider in its own right whether a particular punishment is morally sound. This, in Scalia's opinion, is akin to saying that the Eighth Amendment shall be interpreted in the light of "evolving standards of decency", and then defining "evolving standards of decency" to mean a show of hands among Supreme Court justices.
  • Scalia: The Court's arguments at best show that, as was held in Stanford, there is a consensus to rarely execute people for murders committed while they were under the age of 18; not to never do so. Therefore, deciding when it is appropriate to do so properly rests with juries, who are better equipped to judge particular cases.
  • Scalia and O'Connor: Previous decisions that have overturned the death penalty in specific instances, such as for rape or for the legally insane, have required much stronger levels of national consensus than the ones exhibited in this case.

I think that covers most of the major points, although I may be missing something. --Delirium 05:45, Apr 6, 2005 (UTC)

I'm not sure I've added much in terms of the list offered by Delirium, but I've expanded the dissent section a little to try to provide an originalist perspective on the case, an understanding of which is a critical underlying context in which Scalia's and Thomas' view needs to be seen. --Simon Dodd 14:30, Apr 6, 2005 (IOT)

There is a supreme court case template that should be applied here.

Some Edits[edit]

I am <IP removed> - forgot to login last time.

Noticing that the changes I've made have been reverted, and not desiring to engage in an Editing War, I wrote to explain why I made those changes.

(1)Concerning the composition of the majority: At the end of the syllabus of the slip opinion (available at SCOTUS's official website), it states:

" KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which STEVENS, SOUTER, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which GINSBURG, J., joined. O’CONNOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion. SCALIA, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and THOMAS, J., joined. "

It is therefore apparent that Justice Stevens joined the majority, which is confirmed by the fact that he file a CONCURRING opinion, rather than an opinion CONCURRING IN JUDGMENT. Also, Justice Ginsburg joined the opinion of Justice Stevens, in the beginning of Justice Stevens' opinion, it says, "JUSTICE STEVENS, with whom JUSTICE GINSBURG joins, concurring." It is evident that Stevens joined the Opinion of the Court, and that his opinion is joined by Ginsburg. I found no reason to revert that edit.

(2)Concerning the dissent.

The original article wrote:"At the time of the ruling 18 of 38 death penalty states (47%) allowed the execution of juveniles.

It is clear that it's wrong. Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact. In page 3 of Scalia's dissent, he wrote that "18 States—or 47% of States that permit capital punishment—now have legislation prohibiting the execution of offenders under 18."

18 states of the 38 death penalty states prohibited, rather than allowed, the execution of juveniles. See also Appendix A to the Opinion of the Court.

Scalia also wrote that "Words have no meaning if the views of less than 50% of death penalty States can constitute a national consensus.", confirming that 47% of the States prohibited the execution of juveniles.

I see no reason to revert that edit.

I decide to make the changes again. If anyone found that it is incorrect, please mail me. thanks.

--Tim Song 14:13, 31 December 2005 (UTC)

I just did fact-checking of your edits against the SCOTUS opinion and see that you are correct. My apologies for reverting your edits and mistaking them for sneaky vandalism (often done by anon. editors, with no edit summary). I originally written most of this article, with great care in fact-checking, citing, and referencing what I wrote. But, on closer inspection, the misinformation was added on March 6, by Jleybov and not by myself. Regretfully, I didn't catch it then and it's been in the article for so long. My apologies and I'll be more careful next time. Thanks for correcting the facts. -Aude (talk | contribs) 21:36, 1 January 2006 (UTC)
PS. Thanks for adding the SCOTUS template. Looks very nice. -Aude (talk | contribs) 21:36, 1 January 2006 (UTC)
Glad to help. BTW, does anyone know about the citations? Couldn't find them here in China, could I? --Tim Song 22:36, 1 January 2006 (UTC)
The citations? You're referring to the "Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology" and "Behavioral Sciences and the Law"? These are both highly reputable academic/law journals that most libraries at American universities subscribe to, with articles also available online (by subscription). -Aude (talk | contribs) 23:06, 1 January 2006 (UTC)
No, I mean the court citations, e.g. XXX U.S. XXX. I know this case should be 543 U.S. ___, but I don't know about the others, e.g. S. Ct. and L. Ed., etc. --Tim Song 01:54, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
Oh, okay. On List_of_United_States_Supreme_Court_cases_from_the_Rehnquist_Court_through_the_Roberts_Court, this case is listed as Decided_but_not_yet_reported. I can't find the citation, but I suggest asking on the talk page there to see if it's available now. -Aude (talk | contribs) 02:09, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

Major Edits[edit]

I've edited the section on the ruling in a pretty big way to make it less POV. While I recognize that a lot of this was taken straight from the holding itself, the way it's presented makes it look like we're calling it fact, when much of it is dicta. Also, it should all be in the past tense, as we're now describing what a case held. For instance, as written the entry says

"Now, one finds the stark reality that the United States stand alone, as the only country in the world that continues to allow execution of juveniles."

Clearly, that's not true anymore (given this case), and it therefore shouldn't be stated in the affirmative. I haven't removed any significant text, and I hope my edits are acceptable to all. JCO312 06:46, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

By and large, your edits look fine. Your right that present tense, should be changed to past tense. Though, it's important to note that the U.S. stood alone in allowing execution of juvenile offenders. I have readded that, in past tense, as well as readded a large chunk of text (and references) that were inadvertently deleted upon save. Overall, I thinkthis article can be better referenced. -Aude (talk contribs) 17:22, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
I followed your edits and agreed with all of them. JCO312 17:31, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
Sounds good. I want to add that I'm sure the that happened a few days ago accidental. It has happened to me, and is some technical bug. -Aude (talk contribs) 17:38, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
Actually my blanking of that section was intentional. If you look at the edit right before my first edit you'll see that the majority of the text from that section is missing, and it ends mid-sentence with the letter "o." I should have gone back and seen there was more text, thanks for fixing that. JCO312 17:52, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

Footnote 1[edit]

It seems to me that Footnote 1 is original research. At least the way it is presented, it tries to make a case for something. We should not be making any cases, but just reporting. See the Wikipedia policy on Synthesis of published material serving to advance a position. This is notice that I intend to remove the footnote unless it is rewritten within the rules or a sound case is made here that it is permitted. 03:53, 27 June 2006 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by McKay (talkcontribs)

These references relate to the position of the justices in favor of the court decision. The references give further tangential information about the research that is referred to in the decision. The article also covers the "dissent" position, so certainly isn't giving due weight to both positions. There is no reason to remove the references. -Aude (talk contribs) 04:14, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
I'm not complaining about the references per se, but about the way they are presented: "While the Supreme Court did not cite specific research studies, their arguments are well-grounded in..." That "well-grounded" is an opinion of who? We aren't allowed to state our own opinions like that; it is a clear violation of policy. If you can quote a named expert giving this opinion, that would be a different matter. McKay 06:23, 27 June 2006 (UTC)


Are there citations for the quotes from AU-Washington College of Law roundtable and the Birmingham News op-ed? KHorberg (talk) 14:36, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

Possible error[edit]

This sentence from the article may have an error in it. I think it should refer to sympathy from the victim's family, not sympathy from the murderer's family. There is no source though.

Even considering mitigating factors (no criminal history, sympathy from Simmons' family, and most significantly for the later appeal, his age), the jury nonetheless recommended a death sentence, which the trial court imposed.

JBFrenchhorn (talk) 01:39, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Link to the listing of US execution of minors since 1976[edit]

I added a Wiki link to the listing of the minors executed in the US but I was not sure how much of the phrase to highlight so I ended up highlighting the entire phrase. The phrase can be found under "The ruling" section with the phrase of "20 states had the juvenile death penalty on the books". Can anyone provide me some guidance? Evan.oltmanns (talk) 19:20, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Stylistic/Grammar issues[edit]

I was reading this article, and noticed what seems like a tense shift mid-paragraph. "The implications of this ruling were immediately felt in the State of Virginia, where Lee Boyd Malvo is no longer eligible for the death penalty for his role in the Beltway sniper attacks that terrorized the Washington, D.C. area in October 2002." I'm not sure whether that should be "'was' no longer", or what, but it's awkward the way it is now. Smash bros master (talk) 02:09, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

Mistake in the decent section[edit]

Should the clause "only 18 of 38 death penalty states (47%) prohibited the execution of juveniles" read "juvenile offenders"? Fly by Night (talk) 02:18, 11 May 2011 (UTC)