Today's Papers

Major Minor Decision

Everybody leads with the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision forbidding the death penalty against those who committed their crimes while still minors. About 70 death-row inmates in 12 states will have to be resentenced.

“From a moral standpoint, it would be misguided to equate the failings of a minor with those of an adult, for a greater possibility exists that a minor’s character deficiencies will be reformed,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the court’s majority opinion. As the Washington Postemphasizes, Kennedy also cited global sentiment and international laws. That prompted Justice Scalia to shoot back that the court was overturning laws based on “the subjective views of five members of this court and like-minded foreigners.” (Slate’s Will Saletan catches Scalia flip-flopping.)

The WPfronts and others tease Secretary of State Rice and France’s foreign minister jointly calling for the “immediate withdrawal” of Syrian forces from Lebanon. Rice also said there was “firm evidence” Islamic Jihad in Syria was responsible for the recent bombing in Tel Aviv. “Syrians have a lot to answer for,” said Rice. (Last week, the group’s HQ in Damascus claimed responsibility for the bombing.) Rice also hinted that the U.S. might support the deployment of peacekeepers to Lebanon. “We have to look at what can be done in terms of helping them to stabilize the situation should that become necessary,” she said.

In a New York Timesop-ed, Mideast-hand Flynt Leverett suggests the administration not push Syria to skedaddle too quickly: “Does the Bush administration understand that for the foreseeable future, any political order in Lebanon that reflects, as the White House put it, the ‘country’s diversity,’ will include an important role for Hezbollah?” Hezbollah is the single largest party in Lebanon’s parliament.

The NYT goes above-the-fold with word of the assassination of a top judge and his co-worker son on Iraq’s war crimes tribunal. There hadn’t been reports before of tribunal officials being killed, though one Western adviser to the tribunal acknowledged “other incidents.” There aren’t hard numbers but plenty of less-prominent judges have also been assassinated.

This morning, seven Army recruits were killed in a bombing in Baghdad. And yesterday, seven policemen were killed in attacks around the capital.

The NYT’s Iraq catch-all also notices that the biggest Sunni clerics’ association, which tacitly endorses the insurgency, strongly condemned the massive bombing in Hilla: “The association demands that all such attacks against innocent Iraqis be stopped.”

The Los Angeles Times’ Iraq dispatch focuses on a few thousand Hilla residents protesting in the wake of the bombing. They had two targets: Insurgents and ineffective cops.

The papers go inside with U.N. nukes inspectors saying Iran has given the cold shoulder on some requests for information and visits. The inspectors also said they still don’t have proof Iran is developing nukes.

The WP and NYT notice inside that congressional Republicans have turned their backs on Democratic calls to investigate the administration’s habit of shipping al-Qaida suspects to countries that use torture. “We do not yet see the necessity for an investigation,” said one Republican aide. “We continue to look into this.” The Post buries the better angle: “DEMOCRATS SEEK PROBES ON CIA INTERROGATIONS.” The NYT doesn’t: “SENATE INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN OPPOSES C.I.A. ABUSE INQUIRY.”

The Wall Street Journal goes high with and others stuff eight former detainees—Afghans and Iraqis—filing suits against Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and three military officers alleging they were responsible for abuse and torture the prisoners faced.

The Post and NYT both front, and LAT goes inside with, more Republicans suggesting they’d prefer to punt on the president’s Social Security plan. “In terms of whether it will be a week, a month, six months or a year, as to when we bring something to the floor, it’s just too early,” said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. (The WP squeezes an above-the-fold Page One piece out of that quote.)

The NYT announced its newest op-ed columnist: John Tierney, a Times veteran known for his libertarianism, contrarianism, and occasional shtick. “To test the reaction of cabbies,” writes the Post’s Howie Kurtz, “he once put on a ski mask, told them he had just robbed a bank and asked them to step on it (no one much cared).”

The Journal reports that with Uruguay inaugurating its first Socialist president, the country has been atwitter … with Antonio Banderas’ “singing” of the Oscar-winning “The Other Side of the River” and the (Uruguayan) composer’s a cappella retort Sunday night. It was “the most significant thing to happen in Uruguay in many years,” said an editor of the country’s main paper, which devoted a six-page section to the episode.