Atkins v. Virginia at Twenty: Still Adaptive Deficits, Still in the Developmental Period
61 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2022
Date Written: August 18, 2022
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
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