tionate to his crime, since he had not taken life, attempted to take life, nor intended to take life.
The Court agreed, ruling in a 5-4 decision that the death penalty was excessive punishment for Enmund and others like him whose participation in a felony murder was minor and who did not kill or have intent to kill.
As in Coker v. Georgia (see Document 64) and other previous categorical challenges to the death penalty, the Court based its decision in part on an examination of the laws of other death penalty states, only eight of which allowed the death penalty for those with very minor roles in a felony-murder. The Court also noted that "American juries have repudiated imposition of the death penalty for crimes such as petitioner's" ( 458 U.S. 782, 794).
After presenting these and other facts as evidence of societal rejection of the death penalty for crimes such as Enmund's, the Court concluded with its own judgment: "As was said of the crime of rape in Coker, we have the abiding conviction that the death penalty . . . is an excessive penalty for the robber who, as such, does not take human life." 1
JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court. . . .
Although the judgments of legislatures, juries, and prosecutors weigh heavily in the balance, it is for us ultimately to judge whether the Eighth Amendment permits imposition of the death penalty on one such as Enmund who aids and abets a felony in the course of which a murder is committed by others but who does not himself kill, attempt to kill, or intend that a killing take place or that lethal force will be employed. We have concluded, along with most legislatures and juries, that it does not. We have no doubt that robbery is a serious crime deserving serious punishment. It is not, however, a crime "so grievous an affront to humanity that the only adequate response may be the penalty of death."
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Publication information: Book title: Capital Punishment in the United States:A Documentary History. Contributors: Bryan Vila - Editor, Cynthia Morris - Editor. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 192.
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