Malloy v. South Carolina,
237 U.S. 180 (1915)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Malloy v. South Carolina, 237 U.S. 180 (1915)

Malloy v. South Carolina

No. 172

Argued March 5, 1915

Decided April 5, 1915

237 U.S. 180


The constitutional inhibition on ex post facto laws was intended to secure substantial personal rights against arbitrary and oppressive legislative action and not to obstruct mere alterations in conditions deemed necessary for the orderly infliction of humane punishment. Roorey v. North Dakota, 196 U. S. 319.

Page 237 U. S. 181

A law is not ex post facto within the constitutional prohibition that mollifies the rigor of the criminal law, but only those law that create or aggravate the crime or increase the punishment or change the rules of evidence for the purpose of conviction fall within the prohibition. Calder v. Bull, 3 Dall. 386.

A statute not changing the penalty of death for murder but only the mode of producing death, does not increase the punishment.

Producing death by electrocution instead of by hanging does not increase the punishment and is not unconstitutional under the ex post facto prohibition of the federal Constitution, and so held as to the statute of South Carolina providing for punishment of murder by death produced by electrocution instead of hanging.

95 S.C. 441 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the ex post facto provision of the federal Constitution of the law of South Carolina relating to punishment for murder and altering of place and method of execution of the death sentence, are stated in the opinion.

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