Ewing v. California (2003)
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In Ewing v. California, 538 US 11, the US Supreme Court upheld a state law under which an individual was sentenced to twenty-five years to life for stealing three golf clubs worth $399. In Ewing v. California, Gary Ewing was on parole after serving a nine-year prison term for first-degree robbery. Ewing argued that his sentence violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment in that twenty-five-years-to-life imprisonment was disproportionate to the crime. Ewing was an important case because it effectively diminished the scope of judicial review for certain types of sentences, giving Congress and state legislatures significant ability to enact tough and lengthy punishments. In dissent, Justices John Paul Stevens and Stephen G. Breyer, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David H. Souter, contended that the Eighth Amendment did in fact contain a proportionality requirement and that Ewing's sentence was unconstitutional.