This article examines the Wainwright v. Witt decision and demonstrates why the holding is at odds not only with death-qualification precedent but also with nearly all the other death penalty decisions of the Court in the past two decades. Following a presentation of the Witt decision in Part II, Part III examines the Court's pre-Witt decisions to illustrate the course of the death-qualification decisions since the landmark Witherspoon holding, especially those cases relied upon by the Witt majority to support the Court's change of heart on this issue. Part IV of this article scrutinizes the Witt decision in light of these cases and demonstrates the incongruity and disquieting deviation from precedent exemplified by the Court's holding in Witt. Part V discusses briefly the ramifications of the Witt decision on the issue of death-qualification and Witt's potential impact on the death penalty in a broader sense.
Teresa A. Brown,
Who's Qualified to Decide Who Dies? Wainwright v. Witt, 105 S. Ct. 844 (1985),
65 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol65/iss3/6