Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Justice John Paul Stevens' 10 Most Important Supreme Court Decisions: Atkins vs. Virginia


Facts of the case:

  1. Supreme Court ruled that executing mentally retarded people is unconstitutional. 
  2. In a 6-3 majority, they used the 8th amendment to back up their votes.
  3. The court used cases such as Coker vs. Georgia and Enmund vs. Florida as precedents.
  4. Georgia was the first state to outlaw the execution of mentally retarded people.
  5. Atkins had an IQ of 59, therefore reinforcing the idea that he was mentally retarded and could not be held accountable for his violent crimes. 
  6. The case had only one witness- a forensic psychologist.


  1. How much do witnesses matter in Supreme Court cases? Are their testimonies taken into a lot of consideration?
  2. Are there other types of citizens who are exempt from the death penalty besides those with mental retardations?
  3. Did the public react positively or negatively to the ruling?
  4. Is it a federal law that mentally disabled people cannot be executed? 

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