The basic positions held in this case had to do with whether the death penalty, as applied under Georgia law, was unconstitutional. The lawyers for Gregg argued that the law was unconstitutional because it was too arbitrary. It allowed too much of a possibility that the punishment that people received would not properly fit the crime. The Supreme Court had held in 1972 that the previous Georgia death penalty law was too arbitrary. This meant that it violated the 8th Amendment because it imposed capital punishment in an unfair manner.
In contrast, Georgia's lawyers argued that the law the state had passed was not arbitrary. They argued that it gave plenty of opportunities for defendants to present evidence to mitigate their guilt and to argue for sparing their lives. The Court sided with the state's attorneys and held that the Georgia law was fair.