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Journal Articles

2008

Law and Politics

Proportionality

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The Supreme Court And The Politics Of Death, Stephen F. Smith Jan 2008

The Supreme Court And The Politics Of Death, Stephen F. Smith

Journal Articles

This article explores the evolving role of the U.S. Supreme Court in the politics of death. By constitutionalizing the death penalty in the 1970s, the Supreme Court unintentionally set into motion political forces that have seriously undermined the Court's vision of a death penalty that is fairly administered and imposed only on the worst offenders. With the death penalty established as a highly salient political issue, politicians - legislators, prosecutors, and governors - have strong institutional incentives to make death sentences easier to achieve and carry out. The result of this vicious cycle is not only more executions, but less …