This week, the Supreme Court chose not to hear Reed v Louisiana, a case about whether the death penalty is constitutional under the 8th Amendment, which forbids cruel and unusual punishment. In doing so, it left the lower court’s ruling in place, meaning that for now, capital punishment remains legal.
Capital punishment is just about as old as law itself. The Hammurabi Code required the death penalty for thieves, and the Law of the Twelve Tables required it for burning of crops. These days we’re more restrained. In the US, it’s limited only to crimes of murder.
But one of the Justices would have heard the case, and probably would have voted against the death penalty. That Justice is Stephen Breyer, and he has argued against capital punishment for many years. The Supreme Court has a long history of lone dissenters predicting the future, and it’s possible this is one of those moments. Considering that we get a new death penalty case each year, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Court eventually takes one. And if Breyer is persuasive enough, we might see the end of capital punishment.
That won’t be any time soon. For now, if you’re in a death penalty state, stay away from murder. Since Michigan is not a death penalty state, I doubt you’ll run into any trouble.
This blog is meant for informational purposes only. Nothing here should be taken as legal advice. Always consult an attorney before making important legal decisions.