Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584, 15 (2002)

Page:   Index   Previous  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  Next



Opinion of the Court

As earlier indicated, see supra, at 588, 595-596, this is not the first time we have considered the constitutionality of Arizona's capital sentencing system. In Walton v. Arizona, 497 U. S. 639 (1990), we upheld Arizona's scheme against a charge that it violated the Sixth Amendment. The Court had previously denied a Sixth Amendment challenge to Florida's capital sentencing system, in which the jury recommends a sentence but makes no explicit findings on aggravating circumstances; we so ruled, Walton noted, on the ground that "the Sixth Amendment does not require that the specific findings authorizing the imposition of the sentence of death be made by the jury." Id., at 648 (quoting Hildwin v. Florida, 490 U. S. 638, 640-641 (1989) (per curiam)). Walton found unavailing the attempts by the defendant-petitioner in that case to distinguish Florida's capital sentencing system from Arizona's. In neither State, according to Walton, were the aggravating factors "elements of the offense"; in both States, they ranked as "sentencing considerations" guiding the choice between life and death. 497 U. S., at 648 (internal quotation marks omitted).

Walton drew support from Cabana v. Bullock, 474 U. S. 376 (1986), in which the Court held there was no constitutional bar to an appellate court's finding that a defendant killed, attempted to kill, or intended to kill, as Enmund v. Florida, 458 U. S. 782 (1982), required for imposition of the death penalty in felony-murder cases. The Enmund finding could be made by a court, Walton maintained, because it entailed no " 'element of the crime of capital murder' "; it "only place[d] 'a substantive limitation on sentencing.' " 497

ally required."). He does not question the Arizona Supreme Court's authority to reweigh the aggravating and mitigating circumstances after that court struck one aggravator. See Clemons v. Mississippi, 494 U. S. 738, 745 (1990). Finally, Ring does not contend that his indictment was constitutionally defective. See Apprendi, 530 U. S., at 477, n. 3 (Fourteenth Amendment "has not . . . been construed to include the Fifth Amendment right to 'presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury' ").

Page:   Index   Previous  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007