Baldus Study: Racial Discrimination

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The majority of the court’s opinion was presented by Justice Lewis Powell. In their analysis they concluded that the Baldus Study did not establish the clear intent of racial discrimination in the plaintiff’s case. They claimed that McCleskey failed to prove that any participating member in his case acted in a discriminatory manner against him. They concluded that discretion is crucial factor in the criminal justice process. Due to the critical need for discretion the plaintiff would have to provide clear and valid proof that discretion was abused before the court would take action. They argued that the statistics in the study did indicate that there is a discrepancy that appears to be associated with racial factors. However, the inconsistency …show more content…
Justice William Brennan was one of the four that dissented with the majority. In his opinion he was joined with Justice Thurgood Marshall, the second dissenter. In his analysis of the case he argued that the entire institution of the death penalty was unconstitutional. He contended that the death penalty should be abolished because it was a violation of the eighth amendment. He also claimed that trying to eliminate all arbitrariness from the death penalty was impossible to achieve. Justice Brennan questioned the majority of the court over their fear of widespread challenges to other sentencing decisions if they accepted McCleskey’s claims. Justice Brennan stated that these concerns should have no part in their analysis of the …show more content…
They noted that every case has a unique set of factors and since each case is unique a statistical analysis cannot accurately reflect them all. The advocates pointed out the fact that the district court that reviewed the Baldus Study claimed that the study was missing key variables. The district court claimed that important variables such as the probability of a jury verdict or mitigating factors that could be considered by both the prosecutor and jury were missing in the study. The advocates claimed that the courts have always expressed their reservations about the use of statistics when attempting to prove discrimination. They stated that the courts have been so reserved about using them because of the numerous variables that are present and the uniqueness of each case. The respondents argued that the study had no validity because it could not take into account unknown factors. They claimed that the study was neither accurate nor complete. They backed these claims by referring to the district court’s analysis. The district court concluded that Baldus arbitrarily chose information to use when entering it into his study. The court concluded that Baldus may or may not have missed key factors that could have affected the outcome of the

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