Several justices, including Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia, have already made clear in prior cases that they don’t think the Eighth Amendment requires a proportional relationship between the crime committed and the sentence imposed.
But Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing in a 1991 case, wrote for other justices that while “the Eighth Amendment does not require strict proportionality between crime and sentence,” it does ban “extreme sentences that are grossly disproportionate to the crime.”
Four other justices – John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer – previously noted in another California case involving petty theft that the Three Strikes sentences could raise serious constitutional issues.
I find myself somewhat on the fence here. Although I agree that petty theft and minor drug charges should not rate 50 year sentences, its obvious that the first time or two through the system didn’t discourage people from further criminal activity.
April 2, 2002, 7:44pm
All I can say is: Thank GOD! At last!