Justice Thomas includes a notable footnote in his concurrence in judgement in a decision released by the Supreme Court this morning. In Jones v. Mississippi, the Court upheld the ability of a sentencer to give life without parole to minors found guilty of homicide even without a “factual finding of permanent incorrigibility.” Thomas observes that:
The Court’s language in this line of precedents is notable. When addressing juvenile murderers, this Court has stated that “ ‘children are different’ ” and that courts must consider “a child’s lesser culpability.” Montgomery, 577 U. S., at 207–208 (emphasis added). And yet, when assessing the Court-created right of an individual of the same age to seek an abortion, Members of this Court take pains to emphasize a “young woman’s” right to choose. See, e.g., Lambert v. Wicklund, 520 U. S. 292, 301 (1997) (Stevens, J., joined by Ginsburg and BREYER, JJ., concurring in judgment) (emphasis added); Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833, 899 (1992) (joint opinion of O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter, JJ.); Ohio v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, 497 U. S. 502, 532 (1990) (Blackmun, J., joined by Brennan and Marshall, JJ., dissenting). It is curious how the Court’s view of the maturity of minors ebbs and flows depending on the issue.
For some members of the Court, children are both mature enough to be trusted with the decision to end the life of their own unborn offspring, but too young to be held accountable for murder. I suppose there is a certain sort of consistency in their line of thinking.