Aggravating Youth: Roper v Simmons and Age Discrimination

Emens, Elizabeth Francis

The following discussion proceeds in five parts. Part I introduces the crime, the precedent, and the opinions in Simmons. Part II examines the majority's proportionality analysis, in which the Court concludes that youth's relevance in a given case should not be left to the jury. Part III applies these themes to the dispute between Kennedy and Scalia over how, in evaluating whether a national consensus opposes the juvenile death penalty, to count the states that have outlawed the death penalty altogether. Part IV speculates on how the idea of irrational judgments about rational classifications might inform the analysis of cases arising under another prophylactic legal rule based on age, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Part V concludes.


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Supreme Court Review

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The University of Chicago Press
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May 3, 2016