Will Amy Coney Barrett protect the constitutional rights of children and youth?
As the U.S. Senate continues its mad dash to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett for a life term on the United States Supreme Court, not one senator has questioned how youth might fare under this Court.
While she has a scant record on issues concerning children, her originalist judicial philosophy – tethered to her late mentor, Justice Antonin Scalia — makes it clear that, if confirmed, Barrett could undo critical Supreme Court rulings of the last 15 years which substantially advanced and protected children’s rights. In a series of cases involving sentencing, police interrogation and school searches, the court has repeatedly recognized that children are different and that children’s constitutional rights must reflect and adapt to those differences.
In 2005, in Roper v Simmons, the court categorically banned the death penalty for all youth under 18, citing emerging science proving key developmental differences between children and adults that diminished youth’s blameworthiness for even the most heinous criminal conduct.
In the years following, the court also banned life without parole sentences for youth convicted of non-homicide offenses in Graham v Florida and mandatory life without parole sentences for youth convicted of homicide in Miller v Alabama.
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