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Encyclopedia > Furman v. Georgia
Furman v. Georgia

Supreme Court of the United States
Argued January 17, 1972
Decided June 29, 1972
Full case name: William Henry Furman v. State of Georgia
Citations: 408 U.S. 238; 92 S. Ct. 2726; 33 L. Ed. 2d 346; 1972 U.S. LEXIS 169
Prior history: Certiorari granted (403 U.S. 952)
Subsequent history: Rehearing denied (409 U.S. 902)
Holding
The arbitrary and inconsistent imposition of the death penalty violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
Court membership
Chief Justice: Warren E. Burger
Associate Justices: William O. Douglas, William J. Brennan, Potter Stewart, Byron White, Thurgood Marshall, Harry Blackmun, Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr., William Rehnquist
Case opinions
Majority by: per curiam
Concurrence by: Douglas
Concurrence by: Brennan
Concurrence by: Stewart
Concurrence by: White
Concurrence by: Marshall
Dissent by: Burger
Joined by: Blackmun, Powell, Rehnquist
Dissent by: Blackmun
Dissent by: Powell
Joined by: Burger, Blackmun, Rehnquist
Dissent by: Rehnquist
Joined by: Burger, Blackmun, Powell
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amends. VIII, XIV
Overruled by
Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153 (1976)
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Furman v. Georgia

Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972) was a United States Supreme Court decision that ruled on the requirement for a degree of consistency in the application of the death penalty. The Court consolidated Jackson v. Georgia and Branch v. Texas with the Furman decision, and thus also invalidated the death penalty for rape. The court had also intended to include the case of Aikens v. California, but between the time Aikens had been heard in oral argument and a decision was to be issued, the Supreme Court of California decided in California v. Anderson that the death penalty violated the state constitution, thus Aikens case was dismissed as moot since all death cases in California were overturned. Image File history File links Seal_of_the_United_States_Supreme_Court. ... Federal courts Supreme Court Chief Justice Associate Justices Elections Presidential elections Midterm elections Political Parties Democratic Republican Third parties State & Local government Governors Legislatures State Courts Counties, Cities, and Towns Other countries Politics Portal      The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest judicial body in the United... The Bill of Rights in the National Archives Amendment VIII (the Eighth Amendment) of the United States Constitution, which is part of the U.S. Bill of Rights, prohibits excessive bail or fines, as well as cruel and unusual punishment. ... Amendment XIV in the National Archives The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (Amendment XIV) is one of the post-Civil War amendments, and it includes the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses among others. ... Warren Earl Burger (September 17, 1907 – June 25, 1995) was Chief Justice of the United States from 1969 to 1986. ... William Orville Douglas (October 16, 1898 – January 19, 1980) was a United States Supreme Court Associate Justice. ... William J. Brennan, official portrait, 1976. ... Justice Potter Stewart Potter Stewart (January 23, 1915 – December 7, 1985) was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. ... Byron Raymond White (June 8, 1916 – April 15, 2002) won fame both as a football running back and as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. ... Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993) was an American jurist and the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. ... Justice Harry Blackmun Harry Andrew Blackmun (November 12, 1908 – March 4, 1999) was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1970 to 1994. ... Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr. ... William Hubbs Rehnquist (October 1, 1924 – September 3, 2005) was an American lawyer, jurist, and a political figure, who served as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States and later as the Chief Justice of the United States. ... The Bill of Rights in the National Archives Amendment VIII (the Eighth Amendment) of the United States Constitution, which is part of the U.S. Bill of Rights, prohibits excessive bail or fines, as well as cruel and unusual punishment. ... Amendment XIV in the National Archives The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (Amendment XIV) is one of the post-Civil War amendments, and it includes the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses among others. ... Holding The imposition of the death penalty does not, automatically, violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment. ... 1976 (MCMLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Thursday. ... Image File history File links Wikisource-logo. ... The original Wikisource logo. ... 1972 (MCMLXXII) was a leap year starting on Saturday. ... Federal courts Supreme Court Chief Justice Associate Justices Elections Presidential elections Midterm elections Political Parties Democratic Republican Third parties State & Local government Governors Legislatures State Courts Counties, Cities, and Towns Other countries Politics Portal      The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest judicial body in the United... Capital punishment, or the death penalty, is the execution of a convicted criminal by the state as punishment for crimes known as capital crimes or capital offences. ... Furman v. ... Furman v. ... Holding Since petitioner no longer faces execution, his appeal is moot. ... Justices of the Supreme Court of California (circa May 2005). ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with People_v. ...


A homeowner of a house came home while William Henry Furman was burglarizing it. While trying to escape, Furman tripped and the weapon he was carrying fired accidentally. One of the homeowners was shot and killed. Furman was tried for murder and was found guilty. He was sentenced to death. William Henry Furman was the central figure in Furman v. ...


Justice Potter Stewart, as one of the majority, wrote that "These death sentences are cruel and unusual in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual. For, of all the people convicted of rapes and murders in 1967 and 1968, many just as reprehensible as these, the petitioners are among a capriciously selected random handful upon whom the sentence of death has in fact been imposed. My concurring Brothers have demonstrated that, if any basis can be discerned for the selection of these few to be sentenced to death, it is the constitutionally impermissible basis of race. See McLaughlin v. Florida, 379 U.S. 184 (1964) But racial discrimination has not been proved, and I put it to one side. I simply conclude that the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments cannot tolerate the infliction of a sentence of death under legal systems that permit this unique penalty to be so wantonly and so freakishly imposed." Justice Potter Stewart Potter Stewart (January 23, 1915 – December 7, 1985) was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. ... 1967 (MCMLXVII) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar (the link is to a full 1967 calendar). ... 1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday. ... Holding A Florida criminal statute which prohibits an unmarried interracial couple from habitually living in and occupying the same room in the nighttime. ... 1964 (MCMLXIV) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1964 calendar). ... The Bill of Rights in the National Archives Amendment VIII (the Eighth Amendment) of the United States Constitution, which is part of the U.S. Bill of Rights, prohibits excessive bail or fines, as well as cruel and unusual punishment. ... Amendment XIV in the National Archives The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (Amendment XIV) is one of the post-Civil War amendments, and it includes the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses among others. ...


Two other Justices came to comparable conclusions based on factors including the quality of legal representation provided. Justices Brennan and Marshall concurred on the grounds that the death penalty was incompatible with the evolving standards of decency of a contemporary society. The dissenting justices held that capital punishment had always been regarded as appropriate under the Anglo-American legal tradition for serious crimes and that the text of the Constitution did not support the invalidation of all United States death penalty laws. William J. Brennan, official portrait, 1976. ... Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993) was an American jurist and the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. ... This article concerns the common-law legal system, as contrasted with the civil law legal system; for other meanings of the term, within the field of law, see common law (disambiguation). ... Capital punishment in the United States is officially sanctioned by 38 of the 50 states, as well as by the federal government and the military. ...


In the following four years, 37 states enacted new death penalty laws aimed at overcoming Stewart's objections to the lack of standards to guide the discretion of juries and judges in imposing capital sentences. The new laws were in large part upheld in a series of decisions in 1976, led by Gregg v. Georgia. 1976 (MCMLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Thursday. ... Holding The imposition of the death penalty does not, automatically, violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment. ...


External links

  • Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1976) (full text with links to cited material)

 
 

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