Setting the Bar Too High

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Professor Michelman critically examines Professor Lee’s attempt to establish “the negligible epistemic value . . . [of a] unanimous world-wide rejection of the death penalty for juveniles.” Michelman supports Justice Kennedy’s reference in Roper v. Simmons to an international consensus against capital punishment for juveniles because while he admits that many countries “are surely not relevantly like-minded with us . . . some of them surely are.” He argues that “however true it . . . is that any randomly selected country in the worldwide bunch ‘may’ think vastly differently than we do about the severity of death, . . . not a single one of them dissents from the flat rejection of death as a fitting punishment for juveniles.” Consequently, he concludes that “[t]he presumption of epistemic value in the face of worldwide unanimity holds.”

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