The Supreme Court decided that it is unconstitutional to execute any person who is younger than eighteen at the time of committing a capital offense.
Since the 1950’s, the Supreme Court has recognized that the meaning of “cruel and unusual punishment” is determined by “evolving standards” of decency that reflect societal values. In Stanford v. Kentucky
Christopher Simmons was sentenced to death for a murder he committed at the age of seventeen. Based on the reasoning used in the Atkins decision, however, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the execution of minors was unconstitutional. The ruling was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
By a 5-4 vote, the Court upheld the ruling of Missouri’s high court. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy
Furman v. Georgia
Gregg v. Georgia
McCleskey v. Kemp