Kelly v. South Carolina, 534 U.S. 246, 20 (2002)

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Cite as: 534 U. S. 246 (2002)

Thomas, J., dissenting

to imagine how, for example, the depravity of mind that such a crime displays will not always have a "tendency" to show future dangerousness. And it is of little comfort that today's opinion technically requires not merely evidence with this tendency, but argument by the prosecutor, ante, at 254- 255, n. 4. When does a prosecutor not argue the evidence, and when will argument regarding depravity not also constitute argument showing dangerousness? Thus, today the Court eviscerates the recognition in the Simmons' decisive opinion that "[t]he decision whether or not to inform the jury of the possibility of early release is generally left to the States." 512 U. S., at 176 (O'Connor, J., concurring in judgment).

Today's decision allows the Court to meddle further in a State's sentencing proceedings under the guise that the Constitution requires us to do so. I continue to believe, without qualification, that "it is not this Court's role to micromanage state sentencing proceedings." Shafer v. South Carolina, 532 U. S. 36, 58 (2001) (Thomas, J., dissenting). As a matter of policy, it may be preferable for a trial court to give such an instruction, but these are "matters that the Constitution leaves to the States." Ibid.

For these reasons, I respectfully dissent.


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