Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304, 3 (2002)

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Opinion of the Court

James W. Ellis argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Robert E. Lee, by appointment of the Court, 534 U. S. 1122, Mark E. Olive, and Charles E. Haden.

Pamela A. Rumpz, Assistant Attorney General of Virginia, argued the cause for respondent. With her on the brief was Randolph A. Beales, Attorney General.*

Justice Stevens delivered the opinion of the Court. Those mentally retarded persons who meet the law's requirements for criminal responsibility should be tried and punished when they commit crimes. Because of their disabilities in areas of reasoning, judgment, and control of their impulses, however, they do not act with the level of moral culpability that characterizes the most serious adult criminal conduct. Moreover, their impairments can jeopardize the

*Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the State of Alabama et al. by Bill Pryor, Attorney General of Alabama, and J. Clayton Crenshaw, Henry M. Johnson, James R. Houts, A. Vernon Barnett IV, Michael B. Billingsley, and David R. Clark, Assistant Attorneys General, Michael C. Moore, Attorney General of Mississippi, Frankie Sue Del Papa, Attorney General of Nevada, Charles M. Condon, Attorney General of South Carolina, and Mark L. Shurtleff, Attorney General of Utah; and for the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation by Kent S. Scheidegger and Charles L. Hobson.

[Reporter's Note: On December 3, 2001, 534 U. S. 1053, the Court granted the motion of amici curiae filers in McCarver v. North Carolina, No. 00-8727, cert. dism'd, 533 U. S. 975, to have their amici curiae briefs considered in support of petitioner in this case. Such briefs were filed for the American Association on Mental Retardation et al. by James W. Ellis, April Land, Christian G. Fritz, Michael B. Browde, and Stanley S. Herr; for the American Bar Association by Martha W. Barnett and David M. Gossett; for the American Civil Liberties Union et al. by Larry W. Yackle, Bryan A. Stevenson, Steven R. Shapiro, and Diann Y. Rust-Tierney; for the American Psychological Association et al. by Paul M. Smith, William M. Hohengarten, Nathalie F. P. Gilfoyle, James L. McHugh, and Richard G. Taranto; for the European Union by Richard J. Wilson; for the United States Catholic Conference et al. by Mark E. Chopko, Jeffrey Hunter Moon, and Michael R. Moses; and for Morton Abramowitz et al. by Harold Hongju Koh and Stanley S. Herr.]

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