Limitation of the Clause to Criminal Punishments

The Eighth Amendment deals only with criminal punishment, and has no application to civil processes. In holding the Amendment inapplicable to the infliction of corporal punishment upon schoolchildren for disciplinary purposes, the Court explained that the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause “circumscribes the criminal process in three ways: First, it limits the kinds of punishment that can be imposed on those convicted of crimes; second, it proscribes punishment grossly disproportionate to the severity of the crime; and third, it imposes substantive limits on what can be made criminal and punished as such.”298 These limitations, the Court thought, should not be extended outside the criminal process.

Footnotes

298
Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651, 667 (1977) (citations omitted). Constitutional restraint on school discipline, the Court ruled, is to be found in the Due Process Clause, if at all. back