On Aug. 2, 2016, the Delaware Supreme Court ruled in Rauf v. Delaware that Benjamin Rauf—a former Temple University law student currently awaiting trial for the August 2015, murder of a fellow classmate—established that the state’s current death penalty scheme was unconstitutional in light of the early January U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision in Hurst v. Florida.
The Hurst case involved Florida’s death penalty and provisions that ask jurors to weigh aggravating factors supporting a death sentence against mitigating circumstances that justify a life imprisonment sentence.
In other words, the jury could only recommend a death sentence if it found that the defendant was truly deserving of death. The problem was that Florida judges could ignore a jury’s recommendation when sentencing a defendant to death.
When the Delaware Supreme Court declared the state’s death penalty process unconstitutional, it reasoned that the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires not a judge but a jury to unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt find that circumstances merit a death sentence. This is progress because America should never kill anyone where there is ambiguity.
The death penalty should be abolished