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Eighth Amendment

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Justice Scalia’S Originalism And Formalism: The Rule Of Criminal Law As A Law Of Rules, Stephanos Bibas Aug 2016

Justice Scalia’S Originalism And Formalism: The Rule Of Criminal Law As A Law Of Rules, Stephanos Bibas

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Far too many reporters and pundits collapse law into politics, assuming that the left–right divide between Democratic and Republican appointees neatly explains politically liberal versus politically conservative outcomes at the Supreme Court. The late Justice Antonin Scalia defied such caricatures. His consistent judicial philosophy made him the leading exponent of originalism, textualism, and formalism in American law, and over the course of his three decades on the Court, he changed the terms of judicial debate. Now, as a result, supporters and critics alike start with the plain meaning of the statutory or constitutional text rather than loose appeals to legislative …


The Inequality Of America's Death Penalty: A Crossroads For Capital Punishment At The Intersection Of The Eighth And Fourteenth Amendments, John Bessler Jan 2016

The Inequality Of America's Death Penalty: A Crossroads For Capital Punishment At The Intersection Of The Eighth And Fourteenth Amendments, John Bessler

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We live in a divided society, from gated communities to cell blocks congested with disproportionate numbers of young African-American men. There are rich and poor, privileged and homeless, Democrats and Republicans, wealthy zip codes and stubbornly impoverished ones. There are committed "Black Lives Matter" protesters, and there are those who—invoking "Blue Lives Matter" demonstrate in support of America‘s hardworking police officers. In her new article, "Matters of Strata: Race, Gender, and Class Structures in Capital Cases," George Washington University law professor Phyllis Goldfarb highlights the stratification of our society and offers a compelling critique of America‘s death penalty regime—one, she …


Constitutionally Tailoring Punishment, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas Dec 2013

Constitutionally Tailoring Punishment, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas

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Since the turn of the century, the Supreme Court has begun to regulate non-capital sentencing under the Sixth Amendment in the Apprendi line of cases (requiring jury findings of fact to justify sentence enhancements) as well as under the Eighth Amendment in the Miller and Graham line of cases (forbidding mandatory life imprisonment for juvenile defendants). Though both lines of authority sound in individual rights, in fact they are fundamentally about the structures of criminal justice. These two seemingly disparate lines of doctrine respond to structural imbalances in non-capital sentencing by promoting morally appropriate punishment judgments that are based on …


A Good Enough Reason: Addiction, Agency And Criminal Responsibility, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2013

A Good Enough Reason: Addiction, Agency And Criminal Responsibility, Stephen J. Morse

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The article begins by contrasting medical and moral views of addiction and how such views influence responsibility and policy analysis. It suggests that since addiction always involves action and action can always be morally evaluated, we must independently decide whether addicts do not meet responsibility criteria rather than begging the question and deciding by the label of ‘disease’ or ‘moral weakness’. It then turns to the criteria for criminal responsibility and shows that the criteria for criminal responsibility, like the criteria for addiction, are all folk psychological. Therefore, any scientific information about addiction must be ‘translated’ into the law’s folk …


Engaging Capital Emotions, Douglas A. Berman, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2008

Engaging Capital Emotions, Douglas A. Berman, Stephanos Bibas

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The Supreme Court, in Kennedy v. Louisiana, is about to decide whether the Eighth Amendment forbids capital punishment for child rape. Commentators are aghast, viewing this as a vengeful recrudescence of emotion clouding sober, rational criminal justice policy. To their minds, emotion is distracting. To ours, however, emotion is central to understand the death penalty. Descriptively, emotions help to explain many features of our death-penalty jurisprudence. Normatively, emotions are central to why we punish, and denying or squelching them risks prompting vigilantism and other unhealthy outlets for this normal human reaction. The emotional case for the death penalty for child …


Consistently Inconsistent: The Supreme Court And The Confusion Surrounding Proportionality In Non-Capital Sentencing, Steven P. Grossman Mar 1996

Consistently Inconsistent: The Supreme Court And The Confusion Surrounding Proportionality In Non-Capital Sentencing, Steven P. Grossman

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(Adapted by permission from 84 Ky. L. J. 107 (1995)) This article examines the Supreme Court's treatment of the Eighth Amendment with respect to claims of excessiveness regarding prison sentences. Specifically, it addresses the issue of whether and to what degree the Eighth Amendment requires that a punishment not be disproportional to the crime punished. In analyzing all of the modern holdings of the Court in this area, one finds significant fault with each. The result of this series of flawed opinions from the Supreme Court is that the state of the law with respect to proportionality in sentencing is …


Proportionality In Non-Capital Sentencing: The Supreme Court's Tortured Approach To Cruel And Unusual Punishment, Steven P. Grossman Jan 1995

Proportionality In Non-Capital Sentencing: The Supreme Court's Tortured Approach To Cruel And Unusual Punishment, Steven P. Grossman

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This Article examines the Supreme Court's treatment of the Eighth Amendment with respect to claims of excessive prison sentences. Specifically, it addresses the issue of whether and to what degree the Eighth Amendment requires that a punishment not be disproportionate to the crime. In analyzing all of the modern holdings of the Court in this area, this Article finds significant fault with each. The result of this series of flawed opinions from the Supreme Court is that the state of the law with respect to proportionality in sentencing is confused, and what law can be discerned rests on weak foundations. …