Under what circumstances has the Supreme Court found death penalty laws to be unconstitutional?

4 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    1986. Ford v. Wainwright

    Execution of insane persons banned under Eighth Amendment. That decision only prevents executions of people who, at the time of the actual execution, are not sane enough to understand what is happening and why. At least one person (Charles Singleton, Arkansas, 2004) was forcibly medicated to make him sane enough to be executed.

    2002 Ring v. Arizona

    A death sentence where the necessary aggravating factors are determined by a judge violates a defendant's constitutional right to a trial by jury.

    2002 Atkins v. Virginia

    The execution of mentally retarded defendants violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

    2005 Roper v. Simmons

    The death penalty for those who had committed their crimes under 18 years of age is cruel and unusual punishment and violates the Eighth Amendment.

    2008 Kennedy v. Louisiana

    States may not impose the death penalty for a crime against the person "where the victim's life was not taken"


    Contrast these with a particularly chilling decision

    1993 Herrera v. Collins

    In the absence of other constitutional grounds, new evidence of innocence is no reason for federal court to order a new trial.

    Source(s): You can find a fairly complete list at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States... Proof of mental illness doesn't prevent executions: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR51/003/...
  • 8 years ago

    For laws that said the death penalty was an option for

    1) Those who are mentally retarded.

    2) Those who committed murder, while under 18

    3) Those who are insane

    4) Those who cannot understand or contribute to their own defense, because of some mental defect

    5) Those who raped children

    6) Any murder case, as opposed to very limited application for specific types of murders

    There are others, but these are the most dominant.

  • The court has ruled capital crimes committed as a child and rape crimes are unconstitutional when it comes to the death penalty.

  • J
    Lv 4
    8 years ago

    Think about it, it would be extremely awkward for the supreme court and unconstitutional if they sentenced someone to death wrongly

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