Opinion of the Court
"[d]eath is different." Tr. of Oral Arg. 43. States have constructed elaborate sentencing procedures in death cases, Arizona emphasizes, because of constraints we have said the Eighth Amendment places on capital sentencing. Brief for Respondent 21-25 (citing Furman v. Georgia, 408 U. S. 238 (1972) (per curiam)); see also Maynard v. Cartwright, 486 U. S. 356, 362 (1988) ("Since Furman, our cases have insisted that the channeling and limiting of the sentencer's discretion in imposing the death penalty is a fundamental constitutional requirement for sufficiently minimizing the risk of wholly arbitrary and capricious action."); Apprendi, 530 U. S., at 522- 523 (Thomas, J., concurring) ("[I]n the area of capital punishment, unlike any other area, we have imposed special constraints on a legislature's ability to determine what facts shall lead to what punishment—we have restricted the legislature's ability to define crimes.").
Apart from the Eighth Amendment provenance of aggravating factors, Arizona presents "no specific reason for excepting capital defendants from the constitutional protections . . . extend[ed] to defendants generally, and none is readily apparent." Id., at 539 (O'Connor, J., dissenting). The notion "that the Eighth Amendment's restriction on a state legislature's ability to define capital crimes should be compensated for by permitting States more leeway under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments in proving an aggravating fact necessary to a capital sentence . . . is without precedent in our constitutional jurisprudence." Ibid.
In various settings, we have interpreted the Constitution to require the addition of an element or elements to the definition of a criminal offense in order to narrow its scope. See, e. g., United States v. Lopez, 514 U. S. 549, 561-562 (1995) (suggesting that addition to federal gun possession statute of "express jurisdictional element" requiring connection between weapon and interstate commerce would render statute constitutional under Commerce Clause); Branden-Page: Index Previous 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 Next
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