On Monday, the Supreme Court turned aside a plea to require jurors to satisfy the toughest legal test before they may vote to impose the death penalty, rejecting a new attempt by lawyers to further define an important Sixth Amendment ruling.
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Lyle Denniston, the National Constitution Center’s constitutional literacy adviser, looks at the Sixth Amendment issue of a right to counsel and the ability of public defenders to mount effective cases.
It was on this day in 1963 that the Supreme Court handed down the Gideon decision, which guaranteed the rights of the accused to have a public defender in court.
In an 8-1 decision, the United States Supreme Court has ruled against Florida’s capital punishment scheme, which says that judges have the power to determine facts in death penalty cases.
Note: Landmark Cases, C-SPAN’s series on historic Supreme Court decisions—produced in cooperation with the National Constitution Center—continues on Monday, December 14 at 9 p.m. ET with the story of Miranda v. Arizona.