Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thompson v. Oklahoma

Case Name: Thompson v. Oklahoma

Year: 1988

Result: 5-3, favor Thompson

Related Constitutional Issue/Amendment: Amendment VIII, Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Civil Rights or Civil Liberties: Civil Liberties

Significance/Precedent: The Court was sympathetic when it came to Amendment VIII and did not allow the states to determine what is "cruel and unusual" for themselves. They did not allow 15-year-old Thompson to be executed due to his age, setting a new standard for the death penalty.

Quote from Majority Opinion: "Our task today...is to decide the case before us; we do so by concluding that the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments prohibit the execution of a person who was under 16 years of age at the time of his or her offense."

Summary of the Dissent: The dissent believed that because Thompson was capable of understanding his crime and because the Oklahoma law and authority should be respected in this situation, Thompson should be executed and held to the death penalty.
Quote: "Placing restraints upon the manner in which the States make their laws, in order to give 15-year-old criminals special protection against capital punishment, may well be a good idea, as perhaps is the abolition of capital punishment entirely. It is not, however, an idea it is ours to impose."

Six-word Summary: People under 16 cannot be executed

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