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What is the historical significance of the eighth amendment?
- Yogi bearLv 51 decade agoFavorite Answer
“ Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. ”
The Eighth Amendment (Amendment VIII) to the United States Constitution is part of the United States Bill of Rights which took effect in 1791. The amendment prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishments. The phrases employed are taken from the English Bill of Rights of 1689. In Robinson v. California, 370 U.S. 660 (1962), the Supreme Court of the United States said that the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause is applicable to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court has not explicitly ruled on whether the Excessive Bail and Excessive Fines Clauses apply to the states.
- CanProfLv 71 decade ago
This amendment was ratified as part of the United States Bill of Rights in 1791. It is almost identical to a provision in the English Bill of Rights of 1689, in which Parliament declared, "as their ancestors in like case have usually done...that excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
The state of Virginia had adopted this italicized language of the English Bill of Rights in the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776, and the Virginia convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution recommended in 1788 that this language also be included in the federal Constitution.James Madison changed "ought" to "shall", when he proposed the amendment to Congress in 1789.
A hundred years before its approval by the Congress, England’s declaration against "cruel and unusual punishments" was approved by Parliament in February 1689, and was read to King William III and his wife Queen Mary II on the following day. Members of Parliament then explained in August 1689 that “the Commons had a particular regard…when that Declaration was first made” to punishments like the one that had been inflicted by the King's Bench against a perjurer named Titus Oates. A few months after that explanation, Parliament enacted the English Bill of Rights into law, in December 1689. Titus Oates was a fixture on the London pillory circuit during the reign of King James II (father of Queen Mary II),and Oates has become a fixture of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Eighth Amendment jurisprudence.
In England, the "cruel and unusual punishments" clause was a limitation on the discretion of judges, according to the great treatise of the 1760s by William Blackstone entitled Commentaries on the Laws of England:
[H]owever unlimited the power of the court may seem, it is far from being wholly arbitrary; but it's discretion is regulated by law. For the bill of rights has particularly declared, that excessive fines ought not to be imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted: (which had a retrospect to some unprecedented proceedings in the court of king's bench, in the reign of king James the second)....
Virginians such as George Mason and Patrick Henry wanted to ensure that this restriction would also be applied as a limitation on Congress. Mason warned that, otherwise, Congress may “inflict unusual and severe punishments.”Henry made the same point: "What has distinguished our ancestors?--That they would not admit of tortures, or cruel and barbarous punishment. But Congress may introduce the practice of the civil law, in preference to that of the common law. They may introduce the practice of France, Spain, and Germany...."Ultimately, Henry and Mason prevailed, and the Eighth Amendment was adopted.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
It prohibits drawing and quartering, for one thing.
Seriously though, the best way for you to write this up for your report is to do some research. Start at Wikipedia, and go from there. Search some legal opinions at the library, too.