"x x x.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
DARYL RENARD ATKINS, PETITIONER v. VIRGINIA
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF
[June 20, 2002]
JUSTICE STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court. Those mentally retarded persons who meet the lawís 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 reliability and fairness of capital proceedings
against mentally retarded defendants. Presumably for these reasons, in the 13 years since we decided Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U. S. 302 (1989), the American public, legislators, scholars, and judges have deliberated over the question whether the death penalty should ever be imposed on a mentally retarded criminal. The consensus reflected in those deliberations informs our answer to the question presented by this case: whether such executions are ìcruel and unusual punishmentsî prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the Federal Constitution.
x x x."
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