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481 U.S. 279 Supreme Court of the United States

Warren McCLESKEY, Petitionerv.Ralph KEMP, Superintendent, Georgia Diagnostic and Classification CenterNo. 84–6811

from Part V - Justice

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 April 2022

Bennett Capers
Affiliation:
Fordham Law School
Devon W. Carbado
Affiliation:
University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law
R. A. Lenhardt
Affiliation:
Georgetown University Law Center
Angela Onwuachi-Willig
Affiliation:
Boston University School of Law
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Summary

Argued October 15, 1986.Decided April 22, 1987.

Rehearing Denied June 8, 1987.

BARNES, J. delivered the opinion of the Court. Powell, J. joined in all but Part II. Rehnquist J. filed a dissenting opinion, in which O’Connor, Scalia, and White joined.

Defendant McCleskey filed a writ of habeas corpus in the Northern District of Georgia challenging a 1979 murder conviction and death sentence imposed in Fulton County, Georgia. The petition, which the District Court and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals denied, questions whether statistical evidence from research studies that strongly suggest racial considerations factor into capital sentencing jury deliberations, provides a basis to determine the petitioner’s sentence was unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment or Fourteenth Amendment. We now reverse those decisions based on empirical data strongly corroborating a significant risk exists that McCleskey’s sentence involved unconstitutional race discrimination in violation of both the Eighth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment.

Type
Chapter
Information
Critical Race Judgments
Rewritten U.S. Court Opinions on Race and the Law
, pp. 557 - 581
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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