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Woodson v. North Carolina

Significance, Woodson's Crime, Carolina's Punishment, "a Faceless, Undifferentiated Mass"


James Tyrone Woodson, et al.


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


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

2 July 1976


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."

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980