Jindal Signs Chemical Castration Bill

Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal yesterday signed the “Sex Offender Chemical Castration Bill” hours after the Supreme Court overturned that state’s law allowing capital punishment for child rapists. It “provides that on a first conviction of aggravated rape, forcible rape, second degree sexual battery, aggravated incest, molestation of a juvenile when the victim is under the age of 13, or an aggravated crime against nature, the court may sentence the offender to undergo chemical castration. On a second conviction of the above listed crimes, the court is required to sentence the offender to undergo chemical castration.”

Ben Domenech thinks Jindal is sending a suggestive message to the Supreme Court. But, of course, the law had passed through the legislative process before the Court’s 5-4 ruling, so it’s merely a politically happy coincidence.

Of course, the Supremes court easily strike down this law on the same grounds as they did capital punishment, given that they have arrogated to themselves the sole power to decide what constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.” One could certainly argue that robbing a man of his sexuality is at least as barbaric, and certainly more unusual, than killing him.

On a side note, one imagines this will enhance Jindal’s image with the Republican base and not a few moderates as well, thus making him a more attractive candidate for vice president.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Law and the Courts, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Hal says:

    Hmmm. Hasn’t there been previous chemical castration laws already in place? Why yes, yes there is. California – you know, that latte drinking, hemp wearing, scrotal inflating left coast liberals – has mandatory chemical castration on the second offense.

    So, gee. The whole comparison with the SCOTUS ruling yesterday really is nothing more than a cheap shot which actually just goes to prove the point the SCOTUS isn’t “sparing” child molesters.

    Geebus. There’s a reason why google exists, you know 😉

  2. Hal says:

    Oh, and I forgot:

    McCain/Jindal ’08 Because the White House Needs an Exorcist

    Go Jindal!

  3. Alex Knapp says:

    Given the justice systems propensity for mistakes, I think you could make a decent argument that any punishment that is, by its nature, permanent is “cruel and unusual”. Put someone in jail and then later overturn the conviction, well, you can let him out of jail and provide compensation. If you kill or castrate someone, it’s done and can’t be undone.

  4. Bithead says:

    Hal… When was thta california law passed, and who was in control of the legislature at the time? Just curious.

  5. Mark says:

    What is most “unusual” abd troubling about this article is that Mr Joyner argues that “aggravated rape, forcible rape, second degree sexual battery, aggravated incest, molestation of a juvenile when the victim is under the age of 13”, might be “robbing a man of his sexuality”. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. These are violent crimes that uses sex as the weapon. You should be asking, what is the “man” robbing his victims of?

  6. James Joyner says:

    You should be asking, what is the “man” robbing his victims of?

    I’m in sympathy with the law here. I’m comparing it to SCOTUS’ ruling yesterday on the death penalty.

    Hasn’t there been previous chemical castration laws already in place?

    Five other states had the death penalty for child rapists, too. Kennedy et al used the fact that 45 didn’t as despositive.

  7. Michael says:

    Of course, the Supremes court easily strike down this law on the same grounds as they did capital punishment, given that they have abrogated to themselves the sole power to decide what constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.”

    I thought the Constitution made the Supreme Court the final authority on the Constitutionality of laws, including issues of the 8th amendment. Am I wrong about that, or am I not picking up on some subtle sarcasm?

  8. Grewgills says:

    Hal… When was thta california law passed, and who was in control of the legislature at the time? Just curious.

    The Assembly passed it by a vote of 42 to 27 and the Senate by a vote of 25 to 1, so it was a broadly bipartisan measure in California where many of the Republicans don’t qualify as “real conservatives” according to your earlier comments. So, remaining consistent with your formulation for previous political arguments the California legislature was controlled by liberals.

  9. Steve in wNY says:

    Alex, I share your concern regarding the death penalty–it’s pretty hard to use the old, “oops, my bad” when incorrectly applied. However, chemical castration requires frequent hormone treatments to be effective and, to the best of my understanding, is quite reversible once those treatments stop.

  10. Alex Knapp says:

    However, chemical castration requires frequent hormone treatments to be effective and, to the best of my understanding, is quite reversible once those treatments stop.

    It depends on the method used, if memory serves. I think that some methods are reversible and some are not. I’ll have to look into that.

  11. Bithead says:

    The Assembly passed it by a vote of 42 to 27 and the Senate by a vote of 25 to 1, so it was a broadly bipartisan measure in California where many of the Republicans don’t qualify as “real conservatives” according to your earlier comments. So, remaining consistent with your formulation for previous political arguments the California legislature was controlled by liberals.

    Correct, to a large degree. So why are liberals so pissed, in this case?

    That point aside, James is correct in looking askance at the USSC ruling. Given the rather arbitrary nature of striking down the death penalty in such cases, and given Alex’s comments, are we now to see such castrations also struck down on the same rather tenuous ground?

  12. James Joyner says:

    I thought the Constitution made the Supreme Court the final authority on the Constitutionality of laws, including issues of the 8th amendment. Am I wrong about that, or am I not picking up on some subtle sarcasm?

    The Constitution does no such thing. Article III, by far the shortest of the articles dealing with the branches of government, specifies no such power. The Court claimed that right in Marbury v Madison in 1803 in a case that cleverly made them no meaningful enemies and then didn’t exercise it again WRT the federal government until the Dred Scot case in 1857.

    Practically speaking, though, we’ve allowed the Supremes to get away with this power grab.

  13. Dick Zantow says:

    “given that they have *abrogated* to themselves…”

    I think you mean “arrogated” here. If they had *abrogated* the authority, they would have been casting it away, not seizing it without justification.

    Right you are! Fixed. – ed.

  14. Grewgills says:

    Correct, to a large degree. So why are liberals so pissed, in this case?

    Are they? I looked through several of the high profile liberal blogs and saw no mention of this.

    That point aside, James is correct in looking askance at the USSC ruling. Given the rather arbitrary nature of striking down the death penalty in such cases

    Beside the point, but do you also agree that striking down the DC gun ban was overreach and legislating from the bench?

  15. Billy says:

    I thought the Constitution made the Supreme Court the final authority on the Constitutionality of laws, including issues of the 8th amendment. Am I wrong about that, or am I not picking up on some subtle sarcasm?

    ^^ This

    So why are liberals so pissed, in this case?

    Which liberals are pissed, exactly? I saw no evidence that anyone was all that upset about this.

  16. anjin-san says:

    I have always thought that tying rocks to child molesters and tossing them in the bay is a pretty good idea. I certainly have no problem with harsh punishments for these jokers…

  17. Bithead says:

    Beside the point, but do you also agree that striking down the DC gun ban was overreach and legislating from the bench?

    From what I’ve managed to see of the opinion, no. Seems to me they were going with the language of the 2nd. I’m curious; what other instance are you trying to create a cheap shot from?

  18. Bithead says:

    Are they? I looked through several of the high profile liberal blogs and saw no mention of this.

    Well, here, for one. You know what happens when I go to multi-links.

  19. Bithead says:
  20. Grewgills says:

    Bit,
    I hadn’t heard of Icarusfallen and this is getting no play on any of the major left blogs I have seen. The second link you provide doesn’t really condemn the law and most of the rest of what I saw at its original location (the American Pundit) was trashing Obama. Their blogroll includes Instapundit, Newsbusters, NeoCon News, Powerline, and Stop the ACLU; so I am more than a little skeptical of this representing left wing opinion.

    From what I’ve managed to see of the opinion, no. Seems to me they were going with the language of the 2nd.

    Just returning a snark, but this isn’t the right thread for this. Either the 8th amendment or 2nd amendment threads are more appropriate.

  21. Bithead says:

    I hadn’t heard of Icarusfallen and this is getting no play on any of the major left blogs I have seen.

    It’s been around for a while and is on my regular reading rotation…

    Their blogroll includes Instapundit, Newsbusters, NeoCon News, Powerline, and Stop the ACLU; so I am more than a little skeptical of this representing left wing opinion.

    By those lights, James is an unabashed leftist.

  22. Bithead says:

    but this isn’t the right thread for this

    Mmmmpffhhh.
    Given the amount of comments I write I’m amazed this kind of cross-up hasn’t happened more often.