The Fuller Court (1888–1910)

Criminal Justice

CourtSpeak: Weems v. United States
“Cruel and Unusual Punishment” Clause Case (1910)

Justice Joseph McKenna (majority): “Let us remember that it has come to us from a government of a different form and genius from ours. It is cruel in its excess of imprisonment and that which accompanies and follows imprisonment. It is unusual in its character. Its punishments come under the condemnation of the Bill of Rights, both on account of their degree and kind. And they would have those bad attributes even if they were found in a Federal enactment, and not taken from an alien source.”


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