Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

This Day in Liberal Judicial Activism—June 5

Sirhan Sirhan at a parole hearing at Corcoran State Prison in California in 1997 (Pool/via Reuters)

1968—Sirhan Sirhan assassinates Democratic presidential contender Robert F. Kennedy just after midnight during the celebration of Kennedy’s victory in the California primary. Sirhan’s death sentence for the crime is voided when the California supreme court in 1972 misconstrues the state constitution’s prohibition on cruel or unusual punishment to reflect “contemporary standards of decency” and rules that the death penalty violates what it mis-imagines contemporary standards to be. (See This Day for February 18, 1972.)

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