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In re Winship

Creating Rights

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Black accused the Court of creating rights which do not exist in the Constitution. He reasoned that many of the amendments in the Bill of Rights provide for certain rights to criminal defendants, "but nowhere in that document is there any statement that conviction of crime requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt." Justice Black thought that the Court should be guided by the language of the Constitution itself, and should not interpret "due process" to require whatever the Supreme Court decides is "fair." He concluded that it was up to the state and federal legislatures, and not the Court, to determine what is the appropriate standard of proof in criminal trials, and that due process only requires that the prosecution meet that level of proof chosen by the legislature.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972In re Winship - Significance, Due Process Requires Proof Beyond A Reasonable Doubt, Creating Rights, Further Readings