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Schick v. Reed

Significance, The Lower Court Rulings, The President Can Commute With Conditions, Furman V. Georgia Did Not Apply


Maurice Schick


George J. Reed

Petitioner's Claim

That President Eisenhower's decision to commute Schick's death sentence on the condition that he never be granted parole was unconstitutional.

Chief Lawyer for Peitioner

Homer E. Moyer, Jr.

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Louis F. Claiborne

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, Warren E. Burger (writing for the Court), Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist, Potter Stewart, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

William J. Brennan, Jr., William O. Douglas, Thurgood Marshall


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

23 December 1974


Eisenhower's no-parole condition did not violate the Constitution.

The Supreme Court Ruling

On 23 December 1974 the Supreme Court issued its decision. By a vote of 6-3, it affirmed the ruling of the court of appeals. Chief Justice Burger wrote the majority opinion, in which he was joined by Justices White, Stewart, Blackmun, Powell, and Rehnquist. Justice Marshall wrote a dissenting opinion, in which he was joined by Justices Douglas and Brennan. The majority's decision rested on three points.

No Parole Condition Held To Be Constitutional

Schick had argued that a condition denying him parole was itself unconstitutional. Chief Justice Burger dismissed this argument out of hand:

The no-parole condition attached to the commutation of his death sentence is similar to sanctions imposed by legislatures such as mandatory minimum sentences or statutes otherwise precluding parole; it does not offend the Constitution.

Related Cases

  • Ex parte Grossman, 267 U.S. 87 (1925).
  • Grosjean v. American Press Co., 297 U.S. 233 (1936).
  • Trop v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86 (1958).
  • Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972).

Further Readings

  • Biskupic, Joan, and Elder Witt, eds. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1996.
  • Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1986.

Additional topics

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