By Sonja Sohn, Huffington Post

 

Today is a Tuesday. Most Tuesdays I, along with many other Americans, wake up and carry on with our day as we would on most any other day — stretching in bed, walking sleepily to the bathroom to shower and get dressed, having a quick bite of breakfast and on to what we may not consider to be a luxury, but is — going to school or work or tending the task list for the day. In essence, we are simply enjoying our freedom to live; to make choices and mistakes as we go about the business of doing what we need and want to do, actively creating our lives and our futures as we go along.

Today in Washington, D.C., however, something else far more important than our focus on our individual happiness and survival is occurring; something that indicates whether we, as a society, have matured and evolved enough to be fair and nurturing to our children; something that heavily impacts the spirit of democracy and justice, how it is executed in our country and how it shapes our hearts and minds and future moving forward. Today the Supreme Court hears the cases of two young men, Evan Miller and Kuntrell Jackson, who were sentenced to die in prison as 14-year-old children.

The United States is the only country in the world where children under the age of 18 are sentenced to die in prison. The Court will decide in these cases whether life-without-parole sentences for children violate the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution, which prohibits “cruel and unusual” punishment. In a 54-year-old Supreme Court case, {(Trop v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86, 100-01 (1958)] the court determined that “evolving standards of decency mark the progress of a maturing society” and should be used when determining cruel and unusual punishment. This often cited precedent has been used by the courts to define “standards of decency” at home and abroad.

 

Read the entire article here.