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Woodson v. North Carolina - Significance, Woodson's Crime, Carolina's Punishment, "a Faceless, Undifferentiated Mass"

petitioner lawyer eighth justices

Petitioner

James Tyrone Woodson, et al.

Respondent

State of North Carolina

Petitioner's Claim

That a North Carolina law establishing a mandatory death sentence for all convicted first-degree murderers constituted a violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Anthony G. Anderson

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Sidney S. Eagles, Jr.

Justices for the Court

William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., John Paul Stevens, Potter Stewart (writing for the Court)

Justices Dissenting

Harry A. Blackmun, Warren E. Burger, William H. Rehnquist, Byron R. White

Place

Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

2 July 1976

Decision

That the North Carolina law was unconstitutional because it failed to take into account the "fundamental respect for humanity" inherent in the Eighth Amendment's requirement that punishment be "exercised within the limits of civilized standards."

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about 7 years ago

Case name: Woodson vs. North Carolina

Year: Argued March 31st 1976

Background details of the case: Woodson who was a helper in a robbery/ murder had been announced as first degree murder. In North Carolina there is the death sentence. A group of burglars stole cigarettes and killed the cashier by using a gun. They also took money and hurt one of the customers at a store.

The ruling / verdict: The verdict is the death sentence. The North Carolina law was unconstitutional because it failed to take into account the "fundamental respect for humanity" inherent in the Eighth Amendment's requirement that punishment be "exercised within the limits of civilized standards."


Reasons for the ruling: The Court concluded that North Carolina's mandatory death sentence violated not only the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, but the less often cited Eighth Amendment, which states in full: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."



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