This exercise provides a general overview of the Eighth Amendment as it applies to substantive criminal law. It outlines the Amendment's potential scope as well as its actual reach, as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court. Procedural criminal law (and the Court's capital punishment jurisprudence in particular) is ignored, except insofar as it bears on substantive criminal law or helps to define the Amendment's scope.
On completion of the lesson, students will be able to:
1. Quote the Eighth Amendment.
2. Describe the general overview of the Eighth Amendment as it applies to substantive criminal law.
3. Explain the Eighth Amendment’s scope through the prohibition on cruel and unusual "punishments" not "punishment."
4. State the importance of Ingraham v. Wright.
5. Analyze the significance of the proportionality requirement to substantive criminal law.
6. Explain the significance of the "cruel and unusual punishments" clause as a backbone for the entire law of punishment.
7. Distinguish the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on the "infliction" of cruel and unusual punishments, not their imposition.
8. Discuss the Eighth Amendment's possible and actual reach.