• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that laws requiring a mandatory death penalty were inconsistent with the Eighth Amendment.

Following Furman v. Georgia[case]Furman v. Georgia[Furman v. Georgia] (1972), North Carolina enacted a statute requiring the death penalty for persons convicted of first-degree murder. Woodson, an accomplice in a robbery/murder, asserted that the law was unconstitutional. In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court agreed. Justice Byron R. WhiteWhite, Byron R.;Woodson v. North Carolina[Woodson v. North Carolina] argued that the law violated “evolving standards of decency” for three reasons: First, it provided no opportunity for “particularized consideration” of the circumstances and motivation of the crime; second, capital punishment is a unique form of punishment that requires individualized sentencing; and third, the law might encourage juries to find a defendant innocent in order to escape the death sentence. Woodson was consistent with the more well-known case of Gregg v. Georgia[case]Gregg v. Georgia[Gregg v. Georgia] (1976), which was announced on the same day.Eighth AmendmentCapital punishment;Woodson v. North Carolina[Woodson v. North Carolina]Eighth Amendment

Capital punishment

Due process, substantive

Eighth Amendment

Furman v. Georgia

Gregg v. Georgia

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