Kennedy v. Louisiana
William C. Plouffe Jr.
The case of Kennedy v. Louisiana , decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 25, 2008, has again brought the death penalty to the forefront of the legal debate in the United States concerning the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Although the Court did not discuss race in its decision, the fact that the defendant was African American does make the case significant with respect to race and the death penalty. This entry presents a review of several death penalty decisions, the facts and decision in Kennedy v. Louisiana , and the significance of the decision. Capital punishment has a checkered history in the United States, where, in contrast to most developed nations in the West, the death penalty is still upheld as a legitimate punishment for certain criminal acts. In Furman v. Georgia (1972), the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that the death penalty was Furman ...