Justice Sandra Day O’Connor cast one of her most significant Supreme Court votes last week. And she came down on the liberal side, casting the deciding vote in a 5-to-4 ruling that struck down the death penalty for a 16-year-old cop-killer. The majority — O"Connor, Powell, Brennan, Marshall and Stevens — said the defendant should be spared the death penalty because of his "turbulant childhood." The four-man minority — Burger, White, Blackmun and Rehnquist — said it was time for the court to "bite the bullet" and stop intruding into the sentencing authority of state courts.
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