Degree Year

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Politics

Advisor(s)

Harry Hirsch

Keywords

Capital punishment, Supreme Court, Jurisprudence, Furman v. Georgia, Gregg v. Georgia, Death penalty

Abstract

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Supreme Court decided three landmark cases on death penalty laws in the United States. While adjudicating these cases, the Court sought to address one of the central questions regarding capital punishment: can it be applied fairly? My paper attempts to understand how the Court found an answer to this question. I employ complementary frameworks of constitutional interpretation, formalism, and realism to suggest that the Court's focus on judicial restraint and its weak understanding of race and discrimination led it to conclude that capital punishment can be applied "fairly enough" for our constitutional system.

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