Historical Background Troy Leon Gregg was found guilty of robbery and a double murder. He was sentenced to death. He then appealed and the Georgia Supreme Court confirmed his death sentence. Gregg claimed his death sentence was “cruel and unusual” punishment. He said that it violated the 8 th and 14 th Amendments of the Constitution.
Legal Question Is sentencing someone to death prohibited under the 8 th and 14 th Amendments as “cruel and unusual” punishment?
Decision NO! 7 to 2 vote in favor of the Georgia court. The Court said that the punishment did not violate the 8 th and 14 th Amendments, under all circumstances. Majority opinion written by Justice Potter Stewart. It upheld “guided discretion” which means to have two trials: first trial to convict and the second to sentence/decide penalties.
In Favor Against In Favor: Burger, Stewart, White, Blackmun, Powell, Rehnquist, and Stevens. Against: Brennan and Marshall.
Precedent The death penalty cannot be considered “cruel and unusual” punishment. It does not violate the 8 th and 14 th Amendments and will not in future. “Guided Discretion” will be used in death penalty cases. This case is one of the five “Death Penalty Cases.” The others are: Jurek v. Texas, Roberts v. Louisiana, Proffitt v. Florida, and Woodson v. North Carolina.
Public Support Support Interest groups that are in favor of the death penalty and want to keep it would support the decision of Court. Conservative interest groups would more likely be in favor. Oppose Interests groups that oppose the death penalty and want to get rid of it would be against the decision. Ex. The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCAPD)
What We Think Judgment We both agree with the majority. Justification The 8 th Amendment states “excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.” Gregg was convicted of armed robbery and a double murder therefore his actions were punishable by death. We do not consider it cruel and punishment under those circumstances.