Thurgood Marshall, civil rights leader and our country’s first African American Supreme Court Justice, is one of the most distinguished people ever to come out of Maryland. The BWI airport is named after him, and a statue of him stands in the midst of the state capitol complex in Annapolis.
Forty years ago today on June 29, 1972, Marshall was one of the five Justices who ruled, in a case called Furman v. Georgia, that the death penalty was unconstitutional and commuted all the country’s death sentences.
In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute. We … join the approximately 70 [now 141] other jurisdictions in the world which celebrate their regard for civilization and humanity by shunning capital punishment.
Sadly, this Furman decision didn’t last, and by 1977 the U.S. was back in the execution business.