Furman v. Georgia/Concurrence Marshall VII

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Furman v. Georgia by Thurgood Marshall
Concurring Opinion, Section VII
Introduction I II III IV V VI VII Appendices


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Linked case(s):
428 U.S. 153

To arrive at the conclusion that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment, we have had to engage in a long and tedious journey. The amount of information that we have assembled and sorted is enormous. [408 U.S. 238, 371] Yet, I firmly believe that we have not deviated in the slightest from the principles with which we began.

At a time in our history when the streets of the Nation's cities inspire fear and despair, rather than pride and hope, it is difficult to maintain objectivity and concern for our fellow citizens. But, the measure of a country's greatness is its ability to retain compassion in time of crisis. No nation in the recorded history of man has a greater tradition of revering justice and fair treatment for all its citizens in times of turmoil, confusion, and tension than ours. This is a country which stands tallest in troubled times, a country that clings to fundamental principles, cherishes its constitutional heritage, and rejects simple solutions that compromise the values that lie at the roots of our democratic system.

In striking down capital punishment, this Court does not malign our system of government. On the contrary, it pays homage to it. Only in a free society could right triumph in difficult times, and could civilization record its magnificent advancement. In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute. We achieve "a major milestone in the long road up from barbarism"[164] and join the approximately 70 other jurisdictions in the world which celebrate their regard for civilization and humanity by shunning capital punishment.[165]

I concur in the judgments of the Court.

[Appendices I, II, and III follow.] [408 U.S. 238, 372]

Footnotes[edit]

164^ R. Clark, Crime in America 336 (1970).

165^ Some jurisdictions have de facto abolition; others have de jure. Id., at 330; Hearings, supra, n. 80, at 9-10 (statement of M. DiSalle). See generally Patrick, The Status of Capital Punishment: A World Perspective, 56 J. Crim. L. C. & P. S. 397 (1965); United Nations, supra, n. 77, �� 10-17, 63-65, at 83-85, 96-97; Brief for Petitioner in No. 68-5027, App. E (Aikens v. California, 406 U.S. 813 (1972)). [408 U.S. 238, 375]