The United States Supreme Court Case McCleskey V. Kemp U.S.

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Updated: Dec 01, 2019
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The United States Supreme Court ordered the death penalty in McCleskey v. Kemp, 481 U.S. 279 (1987) case. In which, Warren McCleskey was held accountable for armed robbery and homicide which resulted in the decision of capital sentence for him by the honorable court. Many experts criticize the order of the court by stating that, not much study was carried out while taking this decision. Warren McCleskey was found guilty of two armored attacks and a murder of a white American police officer. McCleskey was African-American. During the hearing, the judges found two infuriating clauses which do exist beyond any uncertainty: During the armed robbery, he murdered a police officer who was engaged in his responsibilities assigned by the government. The jury had suggested the death penalty and no justification was made by the petitioner. Therefore, the court ordered the capital punishment for McCleskey. This decision was guided by the jury’s decision. After World War II, the Los Angeles Times conducted a survey about the case, among different scholars of legislation. According to the survey it was said to be the worst decision made by the Supreme Court.

Lately, a petition was filed via federal courts which states that this capital sentence is a violation of the code of the conduct of the fourteenth amendment. According to this amendment capital punishment can’t be given on the basis of race discrimination. The claims were based on a research journal by the jury members, David C.Baldus, the honorable Charles Pulaski and George Woodworth who was also a statistician. The study highlights the risk of capital punishments on the basis of race (Gross 1905). A law professor also studied 2,500 cases of homicide, and he concluded that anyone who had convicted the murder of a white American, he or she were likely to receive the death penalty. This established the belief that the death penalty in the U.S was associated with the victim’s race. The Supreme Court led by the Justice Lewis Powell stated that the petitioner did not provide extensive proof that would be used in reverse of the lower court.

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The lower court had already applied all the regulations and laws properly. The verdict said that, if the Baldus journal statistical facts were acknowledged at the expression on real, there is no proof of unawareness and un-careful bias decisions, which officials have made in this case. This Supreme Court did not find any of the charges that were formed on the basis of racial discrimination. So, the Supreme Court stated that the results would have been different if the case was based on racism. Only three expressions were made which were not in favor of capital punishment. They were filed by the honorable justice Brennan, Justice Blackmun and Justice Stevens. Justice Brennan’s dissent stated that capital punishment in all scenarios is a painful and strange punishment which are forbidden in the eighth and fourteenth amendments. He promotes his opposition by saying sentence punishment is legal, which rarely happens but in this case, it was a biased decision against a specific race. Blackmun’s also support the Brennan’s fears.

Steven added that courts should have gone thoroughly to the Baldus study journal to avoid these circumstances (Peery & Osagie 1261). The McCleskey case decision was much criticized publically by the human rights organizations as well as many other legal scholars of the United States. They quoted that the court orders should not be affected differences whether they are cultural or racial differences. Lastly, there is a lot of similar cases to the Cleskey v. Kemp, a couple of them would be Hernandez v. Texas, case 347 U.S. 475 and Strauder v. West Virginia, caase 100 U.S. 303.

Works Cited

Gross, Samuel R. “”David Baldus and the legacy of McCleskey v. Kemp.”” Iowa L. Rev. 97 (2011): 1905. Peery, Destiny, and Osagie K. Obasogie. “”Equal Protection and the Social Sciences Thirty Years after McCleskey v. Kemp.”” Nw. UL Rev. 112 (2017): 1261.

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The United States Supreme Court Case McCleskey v. Kemp U.S.. (2019, Dec 01). Retrieved from