Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: June 02, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971928 | Print ISBN: 9781412950855 | Online ISBN: 9781412971928| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
John K. Cochran
The Marshall hypotheses are a series of conjectures by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall regarding the value of opinion poll data on public sentiments about capital punishment. Because the results of such polls can be of great importance to the U.S. Supreme Court's assessment of the constitutionality of various criminal statutes and policies and practices, the validity of these data is especially important. Justice Marshall's opinions regarding both the importance of public opinion data and the limits of their validity opened an area of social scientific research. This entry describes the origins and precise nature of the Marshall hypotheses. This is followed by a brief review of the social scientific studies (both the methodologies employed and the findings of these studies) that were spawned from Justice Marshall's claims. In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Furman v. Georgia that all death penalty statutes within the One ...