The Law: The Death Penalty Revived

After carefully reviewing the haphazard use of capital punishment, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart concluded in 1972 that the death penalty was cruel and unusual punishment "in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual." A majority of five Justices used words like "arbitrary," "capricious" and "freakish" about the application of the penalty. They joined together to shut down the nation's death rows with a ruling that sounded to many like a constitutional ban on executions. Last week all possibility of such a ban ended when the Justices voted...

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