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UNITED STATES V. JACKSON, 390 U. S. 570 (1968)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Jackson, 390 U.S. 570 (1968)

United States v. Jackson

No. 85

Argued December 7, 1967

Decided April 8, 1968

390 U.S. 570


The Federal Kidnaping Act provides that interstate kidnapers

"shall be punished (1) by death if the kidnaped person has not been liberated unharmed, and if the verdict of the jury shall so recommend, or (2) by imprisonment for any term of years or for life, if the death penalty is not imposed."

The District Court dismissed the count of an indictment charging appellees with violating the Act because it makes "the risk of death" the price for asserting the right to trial by jury, and thus "impairs . . . free exercise" of that constitutional right. The Government appealed directly to this Court.

Held: The death penalty clause imposes an impermissible burden upon the exercise of a constitutional right, but that provision is severable from the remainder of the Act and the unconstitutionality of that clause does not require the defeat of the Act as a whole. Pp. 390 U. S. 572-591.

262 F.Supp. 716, reversed and remanded.

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