Thurgood Marshall and the Death Penalty Analytical Essay by Shaad

This paper discusses the Supreme Court Justice's argument for the unconstitutionality of the death penalty.
# 145206 | 1,120 words | 4 sources | MLA | 2009 | BD

$19.95 $9.95 Buy and instantly download this paper now

Chosen as a "Paper of the Week":

Paper of the week
On October 2, 1967, Thurgood Marshall became the first Black Supreme Court Justice in the United States.  In honor of that important date in US history, paper #145206, "Thurgood Marshall and the Death Penalty" was chosen for this week's Paper of the Week on AcaDemon.  This paper focuses on Marshall's position on the death penalty,  particularly his opposition to the death penalty, and the underlying philosophy that informed this opposition.  The paper explains that Marshall believed that the death penalty is unconstitutional  because of the moral of modern society.  An analysis and critique of Marshal's arguments is also provided, along with the writer's personal opinion about the conclusion Justice Marshall draws .  This paper presents an interesting and thought-provoking anlaysis of Justice Marshall's arguments against the death penalty and offers a unique perspective of Marshall's philosophy.


This essay discusses Justice Thurgood Marshall's arguments regarding the unconstitutionality of the death penalty. It first presents Marshall's argument as it appears in his concurrent opinion to Furman v. Georgia, pointing out that Marshall is in favor of "loose constructionism", i.e. the constitution should be interpreted loosely and in light of prevalent morals. In defense of the constitution, the essay presents the aims of the founding fathers, and tries to explain why these aims are at odds with the liberal agenda upheld by Marshall. It shows how Marshall presents the history of the interpretation of "cruel and unusual" as it appears in the Eighth Amendment, and how he is able to use a similar interpretation to argue that the death penalty is unusual. While refraining from concurring with Marshall, the essay shows why his arguments are in tune with the liberal agenda that defines modern governance. At the same time it argues that Marshall's criticism of the founding fathers is misguided.

From the Paper:

"Thurgood Marshall was a staunch liberal in his philosophy, and this is what underlines his views regarding the death penalty. He maintained that the constitution in itself did not guarantee the rights of the individual, and that it was only made to work through successive amendments and judicial interpretations that helped to bring it in line to the present needs of society. In his judicial activities, he employed the approach of ''loose constructionism'', which implied that the constitution is open to a wide margin of interpretation, and that it is the moral framework of society at any moment that ultimately determines the meaning of inherent in the constitution. He uses this approach to argue that the death penalty is unconstitutional in the context of the morals of modern society. This point comes across most forcefully in his concurrent opinion written in response to Furman v. Georgia in which the Supreme Court ruled the death penalty to be unconstitutional.
"Marshall's opposition to the death penalty is ultimately an expression of his abhorrence of state authority. He believes that the constitution exists solely to protect individual liberties."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Ashbee, Edward. US Politics Today. Manchester University Press, 2004.
  • Banner, Stuart. The death penalty: an American history. Harvard University Press, 2002.
  • Madison, James. Writings, Volume 109 of Library of America. Ed. Jack N. Rakove. Library of America, 1999
  • Rosenblum, Victor G. Cases on constitutional law: political roles of the Supreme Court. Dorsey Press, 1973.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Thurgood Marshall and the Death Penalty (2010, October 28) Retrieved May 27, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Thurgood Marshall and the Death Penalty" 28 October 2010. Web. 27 May. 2023. <>