Gregg v. Georgia

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In Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153 (1976), the U.S. Supreme Court decided whether the death penalty is constitutional under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

In 1976 Troy Leon Gregg was found guilty by the jury of a local court for armed robbery and murder and given the death sentence. The Georgia Supreme Court agreed with the punishment except on the grounds that it was a penalty for the robbery. Gregg challenged his unmoved death sentence saying that it was against the Eighth Amendment, that no cruel or unusual punishments would be inflicted for criminal chastisements, and the Fourteenth Amendment that no State would deprive a citizen of life, liberty of property without due process of law.

Gregg appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court who ruled in a 7-2 decision, with only Justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall dissenting, that the death sentence did not violate the Eighth or Fourteenth Amendment as long as it was used on the proper grounds. Georgia's death penalty statute assures that it is given judiciously only after deep investigation into the case to make sure that its severity merits such strong punishment.

This case is one of the five "Death Penalty Cases", the other four being:

The five cases were heard together. The court ruled that the Georgia, Florida, and Texas revised death penalty statutes were Constitutional, but struck down the Louisiana and North Carolina revisions. (The court ruled that Texas' statute -- which took a different approach from the others by legally defining only a narrow class of murders as death-eligible -- could potentially result in fewer executions, highly ironic that in the post-Gregg era Texas has led the nation in the number of executions.)