Is a Kansas statute allowing the death penalty when mitigating and aggravating evidence are equal in violation of the Eighth Amendment? This case summary shows how the Supreme Court answered that question in 2006.
Interactive Constitution: Eighth Amendment (Middle Level)
This lesson introduces students to different viewpoints and debates surrounding the 8th Amendment by using the National Constitution Center’s Interactive Constitution. Students will build understanding of the resources and methods used by justices on the Supreme Court and Constitutional scholars when analyzing and forming opinions about articles, sections, and clauses of the Constitution.
Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) Middle School Level
Does the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel in criminal cases extend to defendants in state courts, even in cases in which the death penalty is not at issue? High school level also available.
This case summary provides teachers with everything they need to teach about Gideon v. Wainwright (1963). It contains background information in the form of summaries and important vocabulary at three different reading levels, as well a review of relevant legal concepts, diagram of how the case moved through the court system, and summary of the decision. This resource also includes nine classroom-ready activities that teach about the case using interactive methods.
Atkins v. Virginia (2002)
Does the Eighth Amendment prohibit the execution of prisoners with intellectual disabilities convicted of capital crimes? This case summary shows how the Supreme Court answered that question in 2002.
Baze v. Rees (2008)
Does Kentucky’s lethal injection method violate the Eighth Amendment? This case summary shows how the Supreme Court answered that question in 2008.
The book Our Rights, written by David J. Bodenhamer, uses historical case studies to explore the rights in the Constitution. Supreme Court cases are used to demonstrate how a right received its modern interpretation, how the right applies today, and how courts and other interpreters seek to balance this right with important societal concerns such as public safety. The complete book or individual chapters can be downloaded.