Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court has called attention to the said court’s seeming double standard regarding the maturity of minors. He is questioning why the court doesn’t consider teens can be fully culpable of homicide but thinks they can have the full right to abortion.
In a footnote containing his opinion regarding Jones v. Mississippi, which is a juvenile sentencing case, Thomas observed that when discussing juvenile murderers, the Court states that “children are different.” He also pointed out that the courts believe they must consider that children are less culpable.
However, Justice Thomas also observed that when the Court supports a “young woman’s right to choose” when reviewing the right of a young person seeking an abortion.
Justice Thomas Finds the Court’s Opinion on Maturity Curious
Thomas also said he found it peculiar how the Court’s opinion on the maturity of minors changes depending on the issue at hand.
The SCOTUS’ ruling in Jones v. Mississippi on Thursday upheld the sentence of Brett Jones who was convicted of killing his grandfather to death in 2004. At the time of the murder, Jones was only 15 years old. He then challenged his sentence of life without parole, arguing that the Court’s opinions in Miller v Alabama and Montgomery v. Louisiana had required the presiding judge who sentenced him to decide that he was incapable of rehabilitation prior to giving him the sentence.
In Miller v. Alabama (2012), the court maintained that the Eighth Amendment’s protection from “cruel and unusual punishment” banned the mandatory minimum sentencing laws from punishing convicted children with a sentence like life in prison without parole.
Meanwhile, in Montgomery v. Louisiana, the court maintained that the ruling in the Miller case should apply retroactively.
In the end, the court disagreed with the argument Jones presented in a 6-3 decision.