4-1 discussion: make your case

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, in his dissenting opinion for Glossip v. Gross, wrote:

Nearly 40 years ago, this Court upheld the death penalty under statutes that, in the Court’s view, contained safeguards sufficient to ensure that the penalty would be applied reliably and not arbitrarily. . . . The circumstances and the evidence of the death penalty’s application have changed radically since then . . . those changes, taken together with my own 20 years of experience on this Court, . . . lead me to believe that the death penalty, in and of itself, now likely constitutes a legally prohibited “cruel and unusual punishmen[t].” (Death Penalty Information Center)

Take a position. Do you agree or disagree that capital punishment is cruel and unusual punishment?

First, title your initial post either “The death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment” or “The death penalty is not cruel and unusual punishment.”

Then, using the U.S. Constitution (specifically the Eighth Amendment) as the basis for your position, make your case. Why is or isn’t capital punishment cruel and unusual punishment? Think about each of the four purposes of punishment and how these purposes, the Constitution, and your ideas all intersect.

In your responses to your peers, consider how they used the Constitution to defend their position. Do you agree with their interpretation of this document? Why or why not? How does their interpretation differ from yours? Which of their points or arguments make the most sense to you, even if you still disagree with their overall position?


Death Penalty Information Center. (2019). Two Supreme Court Justices Chronicle Death Penalty Flaws in Glossip Dissent. Retrieved from https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/node/6184