Kennedy also predicates his opposition to the death penalty in this case on the perceived "immaturity" and "vulnerability" of such offenders. Never mind that the Court hypocritically believes in its abortion jurisprudence that the same minors are deemed so mature that parental notification laws are an unconstitutional burden on their highly developed moral lives.
At any rate, the silly, feel-good, extra-legal "reasoning" of this case is now being invoked to make the point that if these minors-at-the-time-of-the-crime should not be executed, then why should they be sentenced to terms of life imprisonment? As Doug Berman frames it over at Sentencing Law and Policy,
if the Constitution now demands a categorical bar on the death penalty for crimes committed before 18 because of some offenders' "immaturity" and "vulnerability" and the general "mitigating force of youth," shouldn't these same realities and concerns come to bear in at least some non-capital sentencing cases?
If Berman's reasoning is adopted by some such majority of five, then vicious murderers, whom the state can no longer execute, will not even be removed from society for life. And why stop there? If you can't punish the little darlings by death, nor by life imprisonment, then why should the state be allowed to incarcerate them for even twenty or even ten years?
Certainly, once the sloppy reasoning of Roper is applied to its logical conclusion, the SCOTUS must ultimately tell us what so called "standards of decency" "in [their] own judgment" is constitutionally permissible for these "children." And by the way, this "reasoning" does not apply only to otherwise death penalty-eligible cases, but to any criminal offense, since the Eighth Amendment applies to all punishment in every criminal case.
If Berman's right, the SCOTUS will be a busy bunch, telling us what the maximum allowable sentence is for every crime committed by a juvenile.