RESPONDENT: North Carolina
LOCATION: Intersection of Holman and Branch Streets
DOCKET NO.: 73-7031
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: North Carolina Supreme Court
CITATION: 428 US 904 (1976)
ARGUED: Apr 21, 1975
RESTORED TO THE CALENDAR AND SET FOR REARGUMENT: Jun 23, 1975
REVOKED ORDER OF JUNE 23, 1975: Feb 23, 1976
DECIDED: Jul 06, 1976
Anthony G. Amsterdam - for the petitioner
Robert H. Bork - Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court
Jean A. Benoy - for the respondent
Facts of the case
A jury found Fowler guilty of murder in the first degree. The trial judge imposed the mandatory sentence of death in the state's gas chamber. Fowler appealed his conviction and sentence. Both were affirmed. Fowler then attacked the mandatory imposition of his sentence. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certioriari.
Is a mandatory death sentence under state law a violation of the Eighth Amendment's Cruel and Unusual Punishment provision as applied to the states under liberty protected by due process of the Fourteenth Amendment?