The First Freedoms
The Privacy Amendments
The 5th Amendment
The 6th Amendment
Civil Trials
The Interpretive Rules

8th Amendment

The 8th Amendment in Summary

The protections guaranteed by the 8th Amendment—against excessive fines, excessive bail, and cruel and unusual punishment—all have a lengthy history in Anglo-American law. Some of that history involves the defense of these protections, and some of that history involves their violation. And in any event, the meanings attached to these words have changed over time. The current stance of the Court has been that the 8th Amendment should be interpreted in light of society’s “evolving standards of decency.” Recent debates over these issues question not only whether the meaning of the cruel and unusual punishments clause should continue to evolve, but who should decide the standard for that meaning?