Supreme Court Case: Gregg V. Georgia Essay

Most people inhibit morals and hold different classes of ethics, which plays heavily in choosing between right and wrong or fair and unfair. These decisions grow more difficult as time goes on. When considering which Supreme Court case I wanted to research, the thought of picking the death penalty topic originally swayed me. I did not want to pick such a controversial subject, but I grew more and more intrigued as I read deeper into the case of Gregg vs. Georgia in 1976.

The case stirred up many views about capital punishment and allowing a criminal to manipulate the wording of our country’s Constitution to refuse personal responsibility. Throughout the research and trying to form an opinion of the case, I wondered if the death penalty is: truly constitutional, violates civil rights and justified through judgments of man. In Furman v. Georgia in 1972, the death penalty was declared de facto moratorium, or “cruel and unusual punishment. ” Later, in 1976, another case forces the Supreme Court to perform reviews and make revisions for the death penalty for Gregg v. Georgia.

Troy Leon Gregg and 16-year old Floyd Allen hitchhiked along a Georgia highway in November 1973 when a car with two men inside offered a ride. When stopping at a rest stop, Gregg pulled out a 25-caliber pistol, shot and killed the men, and stole the vehicle with Allen. When headed toward North Carolina three days later, police spotted and arrested the Gregg and Allen. Per Georgia police, Gregg confessed to the crime but claimed he acted in self-defense. After Allen’s testimony, the court found Gregg guilty and convicted him of murder and robbery, sentencing him to the death penalty on March 30, 1976.

According to Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute (https://www. law. cornell. edu/supremecourt/text/428/153), after Troy Gregg’s sentencing, he pushed to appeal his case, stating the death penalty perpetuates cruel and malicious punishment. This violates the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which states “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. ”

Gregg also claimed his verdict impeded his Constitutional civil rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. Since the Furman v. Georgia case a few years prior in 1972 required states to prove reasonable and fair cause to issue the death penalty, the Supreme Court lifted the de facto moratorium when Georgia, along with Florida and Texas at the time, created plans to determine reasonable and fair cause, to put forth the death penalty motion. Georgia submitted plans to the Supreme Court with the following guidelines pertaining to death row qualifications:

1) Created a separate proceeding, after the trials, in which the jury determines the appropriate penalty in a capital case. ) The death penalty could only be imposed if the defendant’s crime involved one or more “aggravating circumstances. ” Georgia juries must also consider compelling reasons to reduce the sentence to life imprisonment. 3) Any case in which the death penalty is imposed is automatically reviewed by the Supreme Court of Georgia.

On July 2, 1976, the Supreme Court decided with a 7 to 2 vote that the death penalty was not unconstitutional. The night before Gregg’s scheduled execution he fled from prison with three other inmates and was later killed in a bar fight. The death penalty is a hot topic and a nationwide controversy.

Most states legalized capital punishment, but not all. For example, some interesting, facts show Arizona and California still allow executions by gas inhalation, Utah by firing squad, hangings in Washington, and electrocutions in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. In my opinion, these methods constitute “cruel and unusual punishment. ” Some of these approaches are outdated and are not often carried out. Currently, 32 states legalized the death penalty, while 18 states, including Washington D. C. , abolished the punishment.

When I think of the death penalty, I immediately think of the worst and most deserving: terrorists, murderers, serial rapists etc. Sure, people like Osama Bin Laden, Kim Jong Un, Adolf Hitler, and even American criminals like Gary Ridgeway and Casey Anthony should suffer to the fullest extent of the law. I agree with the Supreme Court ruling in Gregg v. Georgia. The Constitution does not specifically word-for-word outline what “cruel and unusual punishment” is exactly. Leaving this phrase open to interpretation allows the American public to pick apart acceptable forms of punishment and whether the death penalty is indeed constitutional.

Many rampant arguments display both sides of the argument. Should the death penalty be banned as a form of punishment? Balanced Politics (https://www. balancedpolitics. org/death_penalty. htm) illustrates proponents and opponent’s points of views. Select adversary viewpoints say “Financial costs to taxpayers of capital punishment is several times that of keeping someone in prison for life. It is barbaric and violates the “cruel and unusual” clause in the Bill of Rights. The endless appeals and required additional procedures clog our court system.

Society needs to move away from the “eye for an eye” revenge mentality if civilization is to advance. ” Some death penalty advocates say “The death penalty gives closure to the victim’s families who have suffered so much. It creates another form of crime deterrent. Justice is better served. Our justice system shows more sympathy for criminals than it does victims. ” https://www. balancedpolitics. org/death_penalty. htm Capital punishment comes with large amounts of gray area, so to say I am personally on one side or the either would be unfair.

I believe in moving away from the “revenge mentality. ” I also don’t believe murder victim’s families ever receive justice after losing a loved one. The death penalty teaches nothing, it’s just a means to an end. Repeating history lingers until society and law adapt better criminal punishment methods. On a more personal note, people are endowed with moral competence from birth, capabilities to choose between right and wrong, but society depends on government and legislation to delegate matters, like the death penalty. The government does not hold a platform based on conscience, so to expect