Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584, 24 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 584 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

burg v. Ohio, 395 U. S. 444, 447 (1969) (per curiam) (First Amendment prohibits States from "proscrib[ing] advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action"); Lambert v. California, 355 U. S. 225, 229 (1957) (Due Process Clause of Fourteenth Amendment requires "actual knowledge of the duty to register or proof of the probability of such knowledge" before ex-felon may be convicted of failing to register presence in municipality). If a legislature responded to one of these decisions by adding the element we held constitutionally required, surely the Sixth Amendment guarantee would apply to that element. We see no reason to differentiate capital crimes from all others in this regard.

Arizona suggests that judicial authority over the finding of aggravating factors "may . . . be a better way to guarantee against the arbitrary imposition of the death penalty." Tr. of Oral Arg. 32. The Sixth Amendment jury trial right, however, does not turn on the relative rationality, fairness, or efficiency of potential factfinders. Entrusting to a judge the finding of facts necessary to support a death sentence might be

"an admirably fair and efficient scheme of criminal justice designed for a society that is prepared to leave criminal justice to the State. . . . The founders of the American Republic were not prepared to leave it to the State, which is why the jury-trial guarantee was one of the least controversial provisions of the Bill of Rights. It has never been efficient; but it has always been free." Apprendi, 530 U. S., at 498 (Scalia, J., concurring).

In any event, the superiority of judicial factfinding in capital cases is far from evident. Unlike Arizona, the great majority of States responded to this Court's Eighth Amendment decisions requiring the presence of aggravating circum-


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