The Supreme Court of the United States announced on 25th January 2016 that it was denying a petition for the writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in the case of Shonda Walter v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The case involved a direct challenge to the continuing constitutionality of the death penalty posing the question “whether in all cases, imposition of a sentence of death violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments.” The case sought to take up the challenge laid down by Breyer J in his dissent in the case of Glossip v Gross 576 US___(2015) in which he argued that it was time for the Supreme Court to reconsider this very question and called for full briefing on this issue.
Mark George Q.C. assisted with drafting an amicus curiae brief filed on behalf of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England & Wales and others in support of the Petitioner. The amicus brief set out the reasoning for and the process by which the United Kingdom abolished the death penalty in the 1960s as well as the history of death penalty abolition in other common law countries such as South Africa, Canada, Ireland and Australia.