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Public Statements

Vitter's View: Protecting Our Children

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Vitter's View: Protecting Our Children

We should do everything we can to ensure that our children can grow up in a safe and loving environment. This means not only doing our job as parents, but also doing everything we can to ensure our laws protect our kids from predators. That's why I am so troubled by the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling in Kennedy v. Louisiana.

Last month, the court upheld the appeal of Patrick Kennedy, a Louisiana man convicted of savagely raping his own stepdaughter ten years ago. The ruling overturned laws in six states, including Louisiana, that allowed the death penalty to be applied to those convicted of raping a child.

In response to this court ruling, I will soon propose a constitutional amendment that will explicitly allow for the death penalty to be applied to adults convicted of the forcible rape of a child. Voters in Louisiana and every state should have the right to decide when the death penalty should apply.

If any criminals are deserving of the highest punishment our society can impose, it is those who prey on our children and rob them of their innocence through unspeakable acts of abuse. I agree with Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote in the court's dissenting opinion that "long-term studies show that sexual abuse is grossly intrusive in the lives of children and is harmful to their normal psychological, emotional and sexual development in ways which no just or humane society can tolerate."

But in issuing this opinion and overturning our law in Louisiana, the court cited "evolving standards of decency" to justify violating the democratic process by writing its own laws. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, cited a previous ruling in saying that even a crime as heinous as child rape does not compare to murder "in terms of moral depravity and of the injury to the person and to the public" or in "severity and irrevocability."

I beg to differ, as I know many in Louisiana do. We must be vigilant not only in protecting our children, but also in protecting the democratic process established by our Founding Fathers. This case again underscores the need for judges who will adhere to the Constitution as it is written rather than creating new laws. And I will continue to demand that judicial nominees understand the separation of powers that is an essential part of our republic.

Please let me know about any issues of importance to you and your family by contacting me at any of my state offices or in my Washington office by mail at U.S. Senator David Vitter, U.S. Senate, 516 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510, or by phone at 202-224-4623. You can also reach me on the web at http://vitter.senate.gov.


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