Death Penalty: Francis V. Resweber

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Research Paper: Capital Punishment

Capital punishment is one of the most controversial and talked-about topics in the United States today. It is an issue that is not explicitly mentioned in our constitution, so states have been left to interpret the law. As of April 2017, 32 states in the US legally allow the death penalty. Of the 18 states that have banned it, the most recent was Maryland in 2013. The topic is so controversial that the Supreme Court has gotten involved many times, deciding on more cases that have to do with capital punishment than most other subjects. People disagree on many aspects of the death penalty for several different reasons like moral and religious differences. When considering capital punishment, people’s opinions …show more content…

One of the first times was in 1947 in the Supreme Court case, Francis v. Resweber. Here, Willie Francis was convicted of murder in Louisiana and sentenced to death by electric chair. During his execution, the chair malfunctioned and the current that passed through Francis didn’t kill him. Francis argued that re-execution would be cruel and unusual punishment, against his constitutional right. In a 5-4 decision, the court disagreed with Willie, arguing that the equipment failure was not the wanton infliction of pain and that the Eighth Amendment refers to the method of cruelty and not the cruelty that is part of the suffering (Louisiana ex rel. Francis v. …show more content…

In 1972, one of the most iconic court cases about capital punishment was decided on: Furman v. Georgia. It considered both the constitutionality of the death penalty and its adverse effects on minority groups. The controversy of this decision was backed up by more than 200 pages of concurrences and dissents, culminating in a one page decision. In this decision, the Court nullified all existing capital punishment laws and pardoned everybody on death row. To reinstate the death penalty, states had to satisfy the Eighth Amendment by removing all “discriminatory” and “arbitrary” effects. In a 5-4 decision, this case was so controversial that none of the five justices making a majority joined the opinion of the others; this means that there was no stated opinion of the court

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