‘Like Snow [Falling] on a Branch…’: International Law Influences on Death Penalty Decisions and Debates in the United States
Russell G. Murphy
Suffolk University Law School
Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP
June 15, 2010
Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol. 38, p. 115, 2009
Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 10-27
In the past few years, significant changes have occurred in American capital punishment law. This article explores how these changes have been significantly, but unevenly, influenced by international law, foreign court decisions, and global political actions. The article begins with a description of basic Eighth Amendment principles that govern the constitutionality of capital punishment. It goes on to provide foundational information on death penalty practices in the United States and the global community, including specific provisions of international law that prohibit or restrict capital punishment. The public debate over the propriety of reliance on international law that has been occurring among Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court is then described. The article concludes with examples of international law and foreign court decisions that have directly influenced opinions of the Justices in death penalty cases. Commentary is provided on ways in which international law can continue to impact American death penalty policies and practices.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 47
Date posted: June 16, 2010
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