Year
1972
Month Day
June 29

Supreme Court strikes down death penalty

In Furman v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court rules by a vote of 5-4 that capital punishment, as it is currently employed on the state and federal level, is unconstitutional. The majority held that, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, the death penalty qualified as “cruel and unusual punishment,” primarily because states employed execution in “arbitrary and capricious ways,” especially in regard to race. It was the first time that the nation’s highest court had ruled against capital punishment. However, because the Supreme Court suggested new legislation that could make death sentences constitutional again, such as the development of standardized guidelines for juries that decide sentences, it was not an outright victory for opponents of the death penalty.

In 1976, with 66 percent of Americans still supporting capital punishment, the Supreme Court acknowledged progress made in jury guidelines and reinstated the death penalty under a “model of guided discretion.” In 1977, Gary Gilmore, a career criminal who had murdered an elderly couple because they would not lend him their car, was the first person to be executed since the end of the ban. Defiantly facing a firing squad in Utah, Gilmore’s last words to his executioners before they shot him through the heart were, “Let’s do it."

READ MORE: Was the Colonies' First Death Penalty Handed to a Mutineer or Spy?

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Isabel Perón takes office as Argentine president

With Argentine President Juan Perón on his deathbed, Isabel Martinez de Perón, his wife and vice president, is sworn in as the leader of the South American country. President Isabel Perón, a former dancer and Perón's third wife, was the Western Hemisphere’s first female head of ...read more

This clip from This Day In History, we get to see some remarkable things that have taken place across the globe on June 29th. From the Globe Theater being burned down, to the shaking of hands among old rivals in space. See it all here and learn that everyday something incredible happens on Earth.

U.S. space shuttle docks with Russian space station

On June 29, 1995, the American space shuttle Atlantis docks with the Russian space station Mir to form the largest man-made satellite ever to orbit the Earth. This historic moment of cooperation between former rival space programs was also the 100th human space mission in ...read more

Pelé leads Brazil to first World Cup title

On June 29, 1958, Brazil defeats host nation Sweden 5-2 to win its first World Cup. Brazil came into the tournament as a favorite, and did not disappoint, thrilling the world with their spectacular play, which was often referred to as the “beautiful game.” The star of the ...read more

The Rolling Stones fight the law, and the law wins

On June 29, 1967, Keith Richards sat before magistrates in Chichester, West Sussex, England, facing charges that stemmed from the infamous raid of Richards’ Redlands estate five months earlier. Though the raid netted very little in the way of actual drugs, what it did net was a ...read more

The Globe Theatre burns down

The Globe Theatre, where most of Shakespeare’s plays debuted, burns down on June 29, 1613. The Globe was built by Shakespeare’s acting company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, in 1599 from the timbers of London’s very first permanent theater, Burbage’s Theater, built in 1576. Before ...read more

Academy Award-winning actress Katharine Hepburn dies at age 96

On June 29, 2003, Katharine Hepburn—a four-time Academy Award winner for Best Actress and one of the greatest screen legends of Hollywood’s golden era—dies of natural causes at the age of 96, at her home in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Hepburn was born into a well-to-do New England ...read more

Boston doctor found guilty of killing wife

On June 29, 2001, Boston doctor Dirk Greineder, 60, is found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Mabel Greineder, 58, his wife of more than 30 years. Dirk Greineder was a distinguished allergist. His wife, known as May, worked for him as a nurse and was pursuing an ...read more

Actress Jayne Mansfield dies in car crash

Blonde bombshell and celebrated actress Jayne Mansfield is killed instantly on June 29, 1967, when the car in which she is riding strikes the rear of a trailer truck on U.S. Route 90 east of New Orleans, Louisiana. Mansfield had been on her way to New Orleans from Biloxi, ...read more

South Carolina’s Edward Rutledge opposes independence

On June 28, 1776, Edward Rutledge, one of South Carolina’s representatives to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, expresses his reluctance to declare independence from Britain in a letter to the like-minded John Jay of New York. Contrary to the majority of his Congressional ...read more

Germans capture Lvov—and slaughter ensues

On June 29, 1941, the Germans, having already launched their invasion of Soviet territory, invade and occupy Lvov, in eastern Galicia, in Ukraine, slaughtering thousands. The Russians followed a scorched-earth policy upon being invaded by the Germans; that is, they would destroy, ...read more