The Missouri Supreme Court showed their political side this week with a surprise ruling that prohibits executions of criminals under the age of 18 despite an earlier Supreme Court ruling that said the executions were legal. The politics came in when the votes were counted - all four Democratic appointments voted in favor of the execution ban for anyone under 18 while the three Republican appointees voted against the ban.
It's highly likely the decision will once again make its way to the Supreme Court. The logic used by the four Democrats was a stretch to put it mildly. The four justices said that a recent court opinion stating that executions for mentally impaired criminals was cruel and unusual punishment. The four Missouri justices said that would apply to anyone under the age of 18.
The court ruling runs counter to public opinion in Missouri and will likely run afoul of the Supreme Court as well. But the Carnahan and Holden appointees are trying to move the court to the left and have since they took over the majority with a Holden appointment last year.
The case in question involves a St. Louis youth who was 17 when he killed a woman a decade ago. Testimony during the trial indicated that the suspect was chosen as the one to pull the trigger because the criminals felt his age would save him from the death penalty if they were caught. That cool and calculated logic is ample evidence that the youth knew exactly what he was doing and deserves to die for his actions.
The Missouri Supreme Court is denying the will of Missouri residents who overwhelmingly favor the death penalty. In this case, the age of the murderer is irrelevant. It's the murder itself that should be the focus of their decision.
Courts are increasingly not interpreting law but rather
trying to write law. That is the function of the elected legislative body of a state or nation. We can only hope that the Missouri court has some retirements soon and that the next governor appoints those who more clearly reflect the will of a majority of Missouri residents.