Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584, 25 (2002)

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608

RING v. ARIZONA

Opinion of the Court

stances in capital cases by entrusting those determinations to the jury.6

Although " 'the doctrine of stare decisis is of fundamental importance to the rule of law[,]' . . . [o]ur precedents are not sacrosanct." Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U. S. 164, 172 (1989) (quoting Welch v. Texas Dept. of Highways and Public Transp., 483 U. S. 468, 494 (1987)). "[W]e have overruled prior decisions where the necessity and propriety of doing so has been established." 491 U. S., at 172. We are satisfied that this is such a case.

6 Of the 38 States with capital punishment, 29 generally commit sentencing decisions to juries. See Ark. Code Ann. 5-4-602 (1993); Cal. Penal Code Ann. 190.3 (West 1999); Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-46a (2001); Ga. Code Ann. 17-10-31.1 (Supp. 1996); Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann., ch. 720, 5/9-1(d) (West 1993); Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-4624(b) (1995); Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. 532.025(1)(b) (1993); La. Code Crim. Proc. Ann., Art. 905.1 (West 1997); Md. Ann. Code, Art. 27, 413(b) (1996); Miss. Code Ann. 99-19-101 (1973-2000); Mo. Rev. Stat. 565.030, 565.032 (1999 and Supp. 2002); Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. 175.552 (Michie 2001); N. H. Rev. Stat. Ann. 630:5(II) (1996); N. J. Stat. Ann. 2C:11-3(c) (Supp. 2001); N. M. Stat. Ann. 31- 20A-1 (2000); N. Y. Crim. Proc. Law 400.27 (McKinney Supp. 2001-2002); N. C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2000 (1999); Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2929.03 (West 1997); Okla. Stat., Tit. 21, 701.10(A) (Supp. 2001); Ore. Rev. Stat. Ann. 163.150 (1997); 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. 9711 (Supp. 2001); S. C. Code Ann. 16-3-20(B) (1985); S. D. Codified Laws 23A-27A-2 (1998); Tenn. Code Ann. 39-13-204 (Supp. 2000); Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann., Art. 37.071 (Vernon Supp. 2001); Utah Code Ann. 76-3-207 (Supp. 2001); Va. Code Ann. 19.2-264.3 (2000); Wash. Rev. Code 10.95.050 (1990); Wyo. Stat. Ann. 6-2-102 (2001).

Other than Arizona, only four States commit both capital sentencing factfinding and the ultimate sentencing decision entirely to judges. See Colo. Rev. Stat. 16-11-103 (2001) (three-judge panel); Idaho Code 19- 2515 (Supp. 2001); Mont. Code Ann. 46-18-301 (1997); Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-2520 (1995).

Four States have hybrid systems, in which the jury renders an advisory verdict but the judge makes the ultimate sentencing determinations. See Ala. Code 13A-5-46, 13A-5-47 (1994); Del. Code Ann., Tit. 11, 4209 (1995); Fla. Stat. Ann. 921.141 (West 2001); Ind. Code Ann. 35-50-2-9 (Supp. 2001).

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