Capital Briefs: January 30, 1982

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.