Supreme Court Stops Florida Death Penalty

The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 12 said the state of Florida’s death penalty system is unconstitutional because it allows judges, rather than juries, to determine whether a convicted criminal should be given a death sentence. Michael B. Sheedy, executive director of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops in Tallahassee, said the conference was “pleased this decision was issued so promptly” on the first day of Florida’s 2016 legislative session. “This should compel the legislature to address the issue immediately,” he said in a statement. Ruling 8 to 1 in Hurst v. Florida, the high court said that the state’s “capital sentencing scheme” violates the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Writing for the majority, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the amendment, which guarantees the rights of criminal defendants, “requires a jury, not a judge, to find each fact necessary to impose a sentence of death.” In Florida, the jury plays an advisory role, deciding if the defendant is eligible for the death penalty.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The latest from america

In “Sorry to Bother You,” the system’s greatest threat—literal ownership of your time and person—is also its promise of relief.
Eve TushnetJuly 17, 2018
St. Michael Cathedral in Tha Rae, Thailand (iStock photo)
During the cave crisis, at the Cathedral of Saint Michael in Thare, a small village located along Nonghan Lake in northeastern Thailand’s Isaan region, Catholics offered Mass and asked for the intervention of St. Michael the Archangel to protect the young men.
The Catholic Church has renewed efforts to fight racism in the U.S., but Black Lives Matter deserves credit for keeping our attention on racial justice.
Olga SeguraJuly 17, 2018
What can the church do to help repent for the sins of leaders like Cardinal McCarrick and all those who turned a blind eye to his wrongdoing?
The EditorsJuly 17, 2018