OFFICE OF SENATOR JAY PAUL GUMM
Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston & Marshall Counties
For Immediate Release: June 25, 2008
Sen. Jay Paul Gumm
Disappointed” in U.S. Supreme Court
Justices Strike Louisiana Death Penalty for Child Rapists
Paul Gumm, D-Durant, released the following statement after
the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case of Kennedy
v. Louisiana. A 5-4 decision of the court overturned a Louisiana
law that allowed the death penalty to be imposed on a man convicted
of raping his eight-year-old stepdaughter.
Gumm was the chief legislative advocate of Oklahoma’s law
– found in 2006’s SB 1800 – that provides the
death penalty for child molesters on a second or subsequent offense.
“I am deeply disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court –
on a razor-thin 5-4 vote – declared the Louisiana statute
unconstitutional. Obviously, I believe the Court is wrong in Justice
Kennedy’s opinion, which in essence, says the death penalty
is not a proportionate penalty for child rape.
“The Justice is dead wrong. All one has to do is read the
facts of this case and the harm done to the victim – which
Justice Kennedy dutifully relates in his opinion – to see
how heinous this crime was.
“As I said as we fought for passage of Oklahoma’s law,
we allow the death penalty for someone who has murdered a person;
we should allow it for someone who has killed a child’s soul.
“Further, I am troubled by the policy-related arguments in
Justice Kennedy’s decision. He debated the policy issues that
are independent of constitutional questions throughout his opinion.
The Justice suggested that there was no national consensus to impose
the death penalty on child rapists, and used that as a justification
for his ill-advised decision.
“Yet he noted that several states – including Oklahoma
– have enacted similar laws, which in my judgment shows a
growing national consensus. Then, the Justice interjects his willingness
to use the Court’s power to stop that growing consensus with
“Also, the Justice related a sobering statistic his decision
inexplicably ignores. The rate of child rape is about twice that
of murder since 2005. If there is a more eloquent argument for imposing
the ultimate penalty on child rapists, I do not know what that is.
“This is a poor decision that will make America’s children
less safe. Fortunately, we included the option of life without parole
in the Oklahoma statute, which is – for now – allowed
by the Court.
“Obviously, we will look at Oklahoma’s statute and
do what we must to keep children as safe as possible. But our job
was made harder today by a misguided majority on the U.S. Supreme
For more information
Sen. Gumm's Office: (405) 521-5586