Opinion of the Court
evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society." Id., at 100-101.
Proportionality review under those evolving standards should be informed by " 'objective factors to the maximum possible extent,' " see Harmelin, 501 U. S., at 1000 (quoting Rummel v. Estelle, 445 U. S. 263, 274-275 (1980)). We have pinpointed that the "clearest and most reliable objective evidence of contemporary values is the legislation enacted by the country's legislatures." Penry, 492 U. S., at 331. Relying in part on such legislative evidence, we have held that death is an impermissibly excessive punishment for the rape of an adult woman, Coker v. Georgia, 433 U. S. 584, 593-596 (1977), or for a defendant who neither took life, attempted to take life, nor intended to take life, Enmund v. Florida, 458 U. S. 782, 789-793 (1982). In Coker, we focused primarily on the then-recent legislation that had been enacted in response to our decision 10 years earlier in Furman v. Georgia, 408 U. S. 238 (1972) (per curiam), to support the conclusion that the "current judgment," though "not wholly unanimous," weighed very heavily on the side of rejecting capital punishment as a "suitable penalty for raping an adult woman." Coker, 433 U. S., at 596. The "current legislative judgment" relevant to our decision in Enmund was less clear than in Coker but "nevertheless weigh[ed] on the side of rejecting capital punishment for the crime at issue." Enmund, 458 U. S., at 793.
We also acknowledged in Coker that the objective evidence, though of great importance, did not "wholly determine" the controversy, "for the Constitution contemplates that in the end our own judgment will be brought to bear on the question of the acceptability of the death penalty under the Eighth Amendment." 433 U. S., at 597. For example, in Enmund, we concluded by expressing our own judgment about the issue:
"For purposes of imposing the death penalty, Enmund's criminal culpability must be limited to his participationPage: Index Previous 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007