Atkins v. Virginia

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In Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited the death penalty for defendants having low IQ scores. Justice John Paul Stevens relied on an amicus brief from the European Union to reinterpret the Eighth Amendment in this manner:

"within the world community, the imposition of the death penalty for crimes committed by mentally retarded offenders is overwhelmingly disapproved."

Justice Antonin Scalia, in dissent, observed:

"The views of other nations cannot be imposed upon Americans."

Justice Stevens delivered the opinion of the court, joined by Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer. Justice William Rehnquist (joined by Justices Scalia and Clarence Thomas) and Scalia (joined by Justices Rehnquist and Thomas) filed dissenting opinions.

External links

  • Opinions at FindLaw (registration may be required)