FURMAN v. GEORGIA

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
69-5003
Petitioner 
Furman
Respondent 
Georgia
Consolidation 
Jackson v. Georgia, No. 69-5030
Branch v. Texas, No. 69-5031
Advocates
(Argued the cause for respondent)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Furman was burglarizing a private home when a family member discovered him. He attempted to flee, and in doing so tripped and fell. The gun that he was carrying went off and killed a resident of the home. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death (Two other death penalty cases were decided along with Furman: Jackson v. Georgia and Branch v. Texas. These cases concern the constitutionality of the death sentence for rape and murder convictions, respectively).

Question 

Does the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty in these cases constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments?

Conclusion 
Decision: 5 votes for Furman, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 8: Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Yes. The Court's one-page per curiam opinion held that the imposition of the death penalty in these cases constituted cruel and unusual punishment and violated the Constitution. In over two hundred pages of concurrence and dissents, the justices articulated their views on this controversial subject. Only Justices Brennan and Marshall believed the death penalty to be unconstitutional in all instances. Other concurrences focused on the arbitrary nature with which death sentences have been imposed, often indicating a racial bias against black defendants. The Court's decision forced states and the national legislature to rethink their statutes for capital offenses to assure that the death penalty would not be administered in a capricious or discriminatory manner.

Cite this Page
FURMAN v. GEORGIA. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 28 August 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_69_5003/>.
FURMAN v. GEORGIA, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_69_5003/ (last visited August 28, 2014).
"FURMAN v. GEORGIA," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 28, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_69_5003/.