McCleskey v. Kemp: Statistics aren’t enough; one must prove discrimination in the individual case

Warren McCleskey, a black man, was convicted of murdering a police officer & two counts of armed robbery in Georgia. He argued that a study proved that the burden of the death penalty in Georgia was to some extent based on the race of the victim & the accused. They study established that black defendants who kill whites are most likely to receive the death penalty in the state. The question aroused was if the study proved that McCleskey’s sentence violated the 8th and 14th Amendments. Since the Court could not prove that discrimination had existed in this particular trial, there was no constitutional violation. This trial has been used to show the government’s denial of having equal protection of the laws to all races. The Supreme Court must now show a discriminatory purpose as to why the government used the law in the first place.

Related article: