The Eighth Amendment –
Guaranteed Protection Against Excessive Punishments

Newsletter | February 24, 2022

8th amendment

These are extraordinary times in the history of America. Knowing your rights as citizens of this great nations is important. America’s Future is privileged to present our series on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to thousands of readers. So far, we’ve explored the first seven amendments, and now we’re up to one of the most significant parts of the Constitution, which was ratified in 1791.

The Eighth Amendment prevents the federal government and the states (through application of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment) from imposing unjust pre-trial bail against criminal defendants, inflicting brutal or inequitable sentencing schemes, applying inhumane methods of punishment and requires sentences, including fines and forfeited property, be proportionate to convictions. The Eighth Amendment provides:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Text of our Eighth Amendment is derived from and closely mirrors the part of England’s Bill of Rights declaring, “excessive bail hath been required of persons committed in criminal cases, to elude the benefit of the laws made for the liberty of the subjects; and excessive fines have been imposed; and illegal and cruel punishments inflicted.”

The framers of the constitution had fought tyranny face-to-face. They feared that any government exercising power over its citizens might be tempted to misuse its power, perhaps by using torture to extract confessions from the accused or by creating crimes in order to punish and oppress its citizens or anyone designated an enemy of the state. In fact, Abraham Holmes, a member of the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention for the U.S. Constitution, explained that without prohibitions on cruel and unusual punishments, governing powers are otherwise unrestrained “from inventing the most cruel and unheard-of punishments, and annexing them to crimes…[and] that racks and gibbets may be amongst the most mild instruments of their discipline.”

Today, debates over cruel and unusual punishment tend to focus on the death penalty. For example, the American Civil Liberties Union opposes the death penalty and takes the position that granting the state the right to kill people “is inconsistent with the fundamental values of our democratic system.” On the other hand, the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation supports the death penalty and has filed various Amicus Curiae briefs in the Supreme Court that are consistent with its position. At the end of the day, the Supreme Court has rejected the notion that the death penalty invariably violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment for well over a century and on many occasions. That said, the Supreme Court has carved out a handful of categorical restrictions against the use of the death penalty including instances of juvenile offenders, offenders whose intellectual functioning is on the lower end, and non-homicide convictions.

Nonetheless, the death penalty is authorized in 27 states and in June 2021, the Pew Research Center issued a Report revealing that public opinion polling continues to show that a majority of Americans support the death penalty for convicted murderers.

Our Bill of Rights surveys are receiving hundreds of replies. Please keep submitting your opinions and thoughts. A brief summary of responses to last week’s Seventh Amendment tells us that there is currently little faith in impartiality in the courts but a strong desire that it return to following the Rule of Law, that emotions may play a greater role in jury decisions rather than the law, and that “certain cases find favor in certain courts…” based on the political fabric of the region. Please continue to share your insights with America’s Future. Click the button below to participate in our Eighth Amendment survey.

America’s Future Joins In Case Charging
NSA Illegally Surveilled Americans

On Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, America’s Future joined 11 organizations in an Amicus brief filing supporting a Petition for Writ of Certiorari of Jewel v NSA, 856 Fed. Appx. 640 (9th Cir. 2021) to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in support of the Petitioner Carolyn Jewel, et al.

The request for the Writ follows a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Ninth Circuit) decision that the Petitioner did not have standing in the case.

At the heart of the 14-year-old case, grounded in the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution, Jewel is about civil freedoms and God-given rights to be secure that private matters and personal information stay that way, at each individual’s option, unless a fully-informed court with jurisdiction determines otherwise, on a case-by-case basis.  Jewel concerns extraordinary constitutional violations by the U.S. government against its own citizens.  The acts by the NSA, et al, include over two decades of covertly and unlawfully intercepting, copying, collecting, searching, and retaining detailed records of American citizens’ internet and cell phone usage and communications without any authority and under the color of law.

To read more about the Ninth Circuit decision and an explanation of relative legal terms, please click here. The government must file its response to the Petition for the Writ of Certiorari by or before March 21, 2022. America’s Future will keep readers informed as to the status of the case.

In addition to this case, America’s Future proudly joined in an Amicus Brief filing with SCOTUS in late December in connection with the OSHA regulation that SCOTUS struck down earlier this year, ensuring no private business would be penalized in the event an employee was not fully vaccinated. To read the SCOTUS opinion, click here.

Recognize Your Fearless Fighter For American Values – Submit Your Nomination

American citizens across this country are more engaged in their communities than ever before. America’s Future encourages citizen participation and aims to honor those courageous patriots with our Fearless Fighters For American Values award.  These are your friends and neighbors willing to give their all to ensure that this great nation never succumbs to evil forces that threaten our freedom and way of life.

America’s Future stands side-by-side with these tireless warriors helping to protect our individual rights and Constitutional Republic. We intend to recognize their work and share their story. Please click the button below now to submit your nomination for a Fearless Fighter For American Values award.

Community of Champions
for America Expands

The first edition of THE CHAMPION newsletter was released this week with a special column by our Board Chair Lt. General Michael T. Flynn, USA (Ret). And, America’s Future is preparing to hold its first webcast for our Champion For America members in March.

Join our growing community and receive your member benefits package shipped directly to your door (t-shirts included) and a special appreciation gift for charter members only. 

America needs champion leaders more than ever before. America’s Future Champion For America memberships are available for individuals and families. Click the button below to join. Get involved. Stay informed. Help keep the torch of freedom alive for the next generation.

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