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The death penalty has been a permissible form of punishment for certain crimes in the United States throughout the nation's history, with the first recorded case occurring in 1608. The Supreme Court has held on numerous occasions that state proscription of the death penalty is not a violation of the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The court has also held, however, that the Eighth Amendment does impose limitations on when and how states may use the death penalty. Following the 1972 case of Furman v. Georgia, use of the death penalty was temporarily suspended for what the Court saw as the lack of a rational standard for its use. Gregg v. Georgia, decided in 1976, sought to achieve a constitutional death penalty by imposing procedural restrictions on its use. Subsequent Supreme Court cases imposed further requirements, including the requirement that a death row inmate be deemed intellectually

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Timeline

05/27/2014: Supreme Court found Florida IQ cutoff for executions unconstitutional.

03/03/2014: Supreme Court heard oral arguments on death penalty for intellectually disabled.

05/02/2014: Obama expressed desire to ask AG Holder to investigate death penalty issues.

05/02/2014: UN urged death penalty moratorium in US.

11/02/2010: Georgia rejected clemency for death row inmate who claimed intellectual disability.

06/20/2002: Supreme Court held the execution of mentally retarded persons unconstitutional.

06/26/1989: Supreme Court found that execution of mentally retarded persons did not violate Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

07/02/1976: Plurality of Supreme Court lifted temporary moratorium on the application of the death penalty in the US.

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