Rudolph v. Alabama, 308

Citation11 L.Ed.2d 119,375 U.S. 889,84 S.Ct. 155
Decision Date21 October 1963
Docket NumberNo. 308,M,308
PartiesFrank Lee RUDOLPH, petitioner, v. ALABAMA. isc
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

The following questions, inter alia, seem relevant and worthy of argument and Consideration:

Such statistics must of course be regarded with caution. See, e. g., Royall Commission Report on Capital Punishment (1953) 24; Hart, Murder and Its Punishment, 12 N.W.L.Rev. 433, 457 (1957); Allen, Review, 10 Stan.L.Rev. 595, 600 (1958). In Canada, for example, the death sentence was rarely imposed for rape even prior to its formal abolition in 1954. In 1961 there was a slight increase in the number of convictions for rape. See United Nations, Capital Punishment, supra, note 1, at 55.

Fred Blanton, Jr., for petitioner.

Richmond M. Flowers, Atty. Gen. of Alabama, and Leslie Hall, Asst. Atty. Gen., for respondent.

Petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Alabama.


Mr. Justice GOLDBERG, with whom Mr. Justice DOUGLAS and Mr. Justice BRENNAN join, dissenting:

I would grant certiorari in the case and in Snider v. Cunningham, 84 S.Ct. 154, to consider whether the Eighth and Fourteen Amendments to the United States Constitution permit the imposition of the death penalty on a convicted rapist who has neither taken nor endangered human life.

(1) In light of the trend both in this country and throughout the world against punishing rape by death,1 does the imposition of the death penalty by those States which retain it for rape violate 'evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of [our] maturing society,'2 or 'standards of decency more or less universally accepted?'3

(2) Is the taking of human life to protect a value other than human life consistent with the constitutional proscription against 'punishments which by their excessive * * * severity are greatly disproportioned to the offenses charged?'4

(3) Can the permissible aims of punishment (e. g., deterrence, isolation, rehabilitation)5 be achieved as effectively by punishing rape less severely than by death (e. g., by life imprisonment);6 if so, does the imposition of the death penalty for rape constitute 'unnecessary cruelty?'7

1 The United Nations recently conducted a survey on the laws, regulations and practices relating to capital punishment throughout the world. In addition to the United States, 65 countries and territories responded.

All but five—Nationalist China, Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Republic of South Africa, and the United States—reported that their laws no longer permit the imposition of the death penalty for rape.

The following of the United States reported that their laws no longer permit the imposition of the death penalty for rape: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Nampshire New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The laws of the remaining States permit the imposition of the death penalty for rape, but some States do not, in fact, impose it. United Nations, Capital Punishment (prepared by Mr. Marc Ancel, Justice of the French Supreme Court) (N.Y.1962) 38, 71-75.


3 Francis v. Resweber, 329 U.S. 459, 469, 67 S.Ct. 374, 91 L.Ed. 422 (Frankfurther, J., concurring). See Weems v. United States, 217 U.S. 349, 373, 30 S.Ct. 544, 54 L.Ed. 793:

'Legislation, both statutory and constitutional, is enacted, it is true, from an experience of evils, but its general language should not, therefore, be necessarily confined to the form that evil had theretofore taken. Time works changes, brings into existence new conditions and purpose. Therefore, a principle to be vital must be capable of wider application than the mischief which gave it birth. This is peculiarly true of constitutions. They are not ephemeral enactments, designed to meeting passing occasions. They are, to use the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
70 cases
  • Lynch, In re
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • December 4, 1972
    ...unconstitutional because disproportionate to the crime. (Cf. Rudolph v. Alabama (1963) 375 U.S. 889, 84 S.Ct. 155, 11 L.Ed.2d 119 (Goldberg, J., joined by Douglas, J., and Brennan, J., dissenting from denial of certiorari).) The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, so ruled in Ralph v.......
  • Nadeau v. Helgemoe
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of New Hampshire
    • December 6, 1976
    ...that it results in the gratuitous infliction of suffering. At 182, 96 S.Ct. at 2929. See Rudolph v. Alabama, 375 U.S. 889, 891, 84 S.Ct. 155, 11 L.Ed.2d 119 (1963) (Goldberg, J., dissenting); Estelle v. Gamble, ___ U.S. ___, 97 S.Ct. 285, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976). It is a test, as recognized b......
  • Duncan v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • June 30, 1965
    ...Rudolph v. State, 275 Ala. 115, 152 So.2d 662. The Supreme Court of the United States had denied certiorari. Rudolph v. Alabama, 375 U.S. 889, 84 S.Ct. 155, 11 L.Ed.2d 119. We had also denied a petition for leave to file a petition for writ of error coram nobis. Ex parte Rudolph, 276 Ala. 3......
  • Nelson v. State, A19-1451
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court
    • July 29, 2020
    ...about the constitutionality of the death penalty that had not been raised by the petitioner. See Rudolph v. Alabama , 375 U.S. 889, 889–91, 84 S.Ct. 155, 11 L.Ed.2d 119 (1963) (Goldberg, J., dissenting from denial of certiorari). His dissent, which was joined by Justices Douglas and Brennan......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT