This Comment argues that, while the Court’s modern Eighth Amendment jurisprudence has gradually reduced the circumstances under which the death penalty may be imposed, this trend is inconsistent with the Court’s unwillingness to critically examine the specific procedures states use to execute, even in the face of growing concerns over the humaneness of such procedures. Part I gives a historic overview of the Court’s limited method-of-execution jurisprudence, followed by a review of the Court’s recent line of rulings on challenges to the death penalty’s proportionality. Part II analyzes Baze within the broader context of the Court’s Eight Amendment proportionality jurisprudence. It specifically argues that the Court’s gradual restriction of the administration of the death penalty with respect to certain classes of offenders and categories of crimes is inconsistent with its near indifference to the specific procedures states use to execute. Part III discusses the implications of the Baze decision and concludes with recommendations for states going forward with lethal injection and courts reviewing method-of-execution challenges.

Recommended Citation

Heilman, Katie Roth. “Contemplating Cruel and Unusual: A Critical Analysis of Baze v. Rees in the Context of the Supreme Court's Eighth Amendment Proportionality Jurisprudence.” American University Law Review 58, no. 3 (February 2009): 633-663.

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