Against the Death Penalty: The Relentless Dissents of Justices Brennan and Marshall

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From 1976, when the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty in Gregg v. Georgia, until their retirements in the early 1990s, Justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall doggedly voted against capital punishment in over 2,500 cases. The Justices typically began their opinions by reiterating they were adhering to their views that "the death penalty is in all cases cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments." While most of the dissents ...
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Overview

From 1976, when the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty in Gregg v. Georgia, until their retirements in the early 1990s, Justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall doggedly voted against capital punishment in over 2,500 cases. The Justices typically began their opinions by reiterating they were adhering to their views that "the death penalty is in all cases cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments." While most of the dissents upheld without elaboration their conviction that capital punishment was unconstitutional, some explained in detail why, even assuming the death penalty might be constitutional, its application in the case before the Court was not. In this well-researched and copiously documented work, Michael Mello provides a comprehensive analysis of the legal, historical, and philosophical underpinnings of the Justices' relentless dissents against capital punishment. Mello begins with biographical sketches of Brennan and Marshall, examining how two men from divergent legal backgrounds came to share an unswerving stance against the death penalty. He then considers the historical, theoretical, and jurisprudential legitimacy of Supreme Court dissents in general, and sustained dissents in particular.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Supreme Court Justices Brennan and Marshall dissented in over 2,500 capital punishment cases from 1976 until their retirements in the 1990s. Mello (law, Vermont Law School) scrupulously researches their opinions, sometimes drawing on personal papers and internal memoranda, to analyze the legal, historical, and philosophical foundations of the dissents, providing biographical material on both men and a wider theoretical consideration of the jurisprudential legitimacy of Supreme Court dissents. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555532611
  • Publisher: Northeastern University Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.35 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Prologue
1 The Two Justices 3
2 Legitimacy in History 84
3 Legitimacy in Theory 127
4 Legitimacy in Judicial Politics 157
Epilogue 209
Notes 211
Index 321
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