Edwards v. Carpenter, 529 U.S. 446, 6 (2000)

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Cite as: 529 U. S. 446 (2000)

Opinion of the Court

assistance-of-counsel claim can serve as cause to excuse the procedural default of another habeas claim only if the habeas petitioner can satisfy the "cause and prejudice" standard with respect to the ineffective-assistance claim itself. We agree.

The procedural default doctrine and its attendant "cause and prejudice" standard are "grounded in concerns of comity and federalism," Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U. S. 722, 730 (1991), and apply alike whether the default in question occurred at trial, on appeal, or on state collateral attack, Murray v. Carrier, 477 U. S. 478, 490-492 (1986). "[A] habeas petitioner who has failed to meet the State's procedural requirements for presenting his federal claims has deprived the state courts of an opportunity to address those claims in the first instance." Coleman, 501 U. S., at 732. We therefore require a prisoner to demonstrate cause for his state-court default of any federal claim, and prejudice therefrom, before the federal habeas court will consider the merits of that claim. Id., at 750. The one exception to that rule, not at issue here, is the circumstance in which the habeas petitioner can demonstrate a sufficient probability that our failure to review his federal claim will result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice. Ibid.

Although we have not identified with precision exactly what constitutes "cause" to excuse a procedural default, we have acknowledged that in certain circumstances counsel's ineffectiveness in failing properly to preserve the claim for review in state court will suffice. Carrier, 477 U. S., at 488-489. Not just any deficiency in counsel's performance will do, however; the assistance must have been so ineffective as to violate the Federal Constitution. Ibid. In other words, ineffective assistance adequate to establish cause for the procedural default of some other constitutional claim is itself an independent constitutional claim. And we held in Carrier that the principles of comity and federalism that underlie our longstanding exhaustion doctrine—then as


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