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Supreme Court Hears Simmons Case

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By Bill Raack, KWMU/Associated Press

Washington, D.C. – A divided U.S. Supreme Court is grappling with whether it's unconstitutionally cruel to execute 16- and 17-year-old criminals. During arguments today in Washington, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out that Americans have to be 18 to vote, sit on juries or serve on the military. The court has already barred execution of people under age 16. Justice Anthony Kennedy said he was troubled by the cruelty of some murders committed by juveniles. And he said he didn't want to get rid of a deterrent to such crimes.

The case is that of Missouri teenager Christopher Simmons, who was 17 when he kidnapped and murdered Shirley Crook of Jefferson County. Simmons' lawyer told justices that the U-S is "literally alone in the world" in executing juveniles. But Missouri solicitor James Layton told justices not to be swayed by "what happens in the rest of the world."

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