Atkins v. Virginia at Twenty: Still Adaptive Deficits, Still in the Developmental Period

61 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2022

Date Written: August 18, 2022

Abstract

In 2002, in Atkins v. Virginia, the United States Supreme Court held that persons with intellectual disability could not be executed. The Court determined that imposing the ultimate punishment on individuals with intellectual disability was disproportionate and thus was cruel and unusual punishment barred by the Eighth Amendment. But it continues to happen. This article examines how recalcitrant state courts and legislatures, relying primarily upon a single, ill-advised sentence in the Atkins decision, have created procedural and substantive obstacles that often effectively nullify the constitutional ban and how the federal courts, often equally recalcitrant, have, for the most part, refused to intervene.

Keywords: Atkins v. Virginia, Supreme Court, intellectual disability, disability, capital punishment, death penalty, execution, Eighth Amendment, state court, state legislature, constitutional ban

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Sheri Lynn and Blume, John H. and Van Winkle, Brendan, Atkins v. Virginia at Twenty: Still Adaptive Deficits, Still in the Developmental Period (August 18, 2022). Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper, Forthcoming, Washington and Lee Law Review, Vol. 28, No. 1, 2022, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4194005

Sheri Lynn Johnson (Contact Author)

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States
607-255-6478 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)

John H. Blume

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States

Brendan Van Winkle

Independent

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