By Mary Welek Atwell (auth.)
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Extra info for An American Dilemma: International Law, Capital Punishment, and Federalism
Three years after the court handed down its decision in Herrera, Congress passed the AEDPA, which further curtailed the appeals process for those on death row. Perhaps because many politicians claimed that “excessive” appeals in the federal courts interfered with efficiency in punishing crime, AEDPA permitted successive habeas corpus petitions only if the Supreme Court had made a new rule and stated that the rule was retroactive. 47 In other words, the standard for review was virtually impossible to meet.
On several occasions, the court has addressed the matter of whether the Constitution permits the execution of the mentally retarded. In Penry v. Lynaugh,29 the majority ruled that it was not unconstitutional to put a retarded person to death. However, they did insist that Texas courts must allow juries to be told that mental retardation was a mitigating factor. In 2002, they reversed Penry in Atkins v. Virginia, which held that execution of mentally retarded persons violated contemporary standards of decency and was therefore unconstitutional.
Douglas also commented on disparities. ” Justices Byron White and Potter Stewart focused more narrowly on the randomness with which death sentences were handed out. ” His words came to characterize what was wrong with capital punishment. The decision in Furman meant that the death penalty, as it was being applied, was unconstitutional. The five member majority of the court agreed that the arbitrary way in which courts made their decisions about who would live and who would die did not meet the standards of decency that the Eighth Amendment required.
An American Dilemma: International Law, Capital Punishment, and Federalism by Mary Welek Atwell (auth.)