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    This page contains Supreme Court rulings -- with summaries of the majority and minority conclusions.

98-8384 on Oct 4, 1999

Decided Apr 18, 2000
A Virginia jury convicted petitioner Williams of robbery and capital murder, and, after a sentencing hearing, found a probability of future dangerousness and unanimously fixed his punishment at death, applying the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.

In habeas corpus proceedings, a federal trial judge [overruled] the death sentence [because it] was constitutionally infirm on ineffective-assistance grounds, identifying five categories of mitigating evidence that counsel had failed to introduce. The Virginia Supreme Court then re-imposed the death penalty.


(Stevens, joined by OíConnor, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer)
The death penalty conviction is overturned on ineffective-assistance grounds.


(OíConnor, joined by Rehnquist, Kennedy, Thomas, and in part by Scalia)
The section of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act intended to shorten the time between sentencing and executions in capital punishment cases is upheld.


(Rehnquist, joined by Thomas and Scalia)
I agree with the Courtís interpretation upholding the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act but disagree with its decision to grant habeas relief in this case. The murder was just one act in a crime spree that lasted most of Williamsís life. There was strong evidence that petitioner would continue to be a danger to society, both in and out of prison. A jury would not have been swayed by potential mitigating evidence demonstrating that petitioner had a terrible childhood and a low IQ.

    Participating counts on VoteMatch question 9. Question 9: Stricter punishment reduces crime Scores: -2=Strongly oppose; -1=Oppose; 0=neutral; 1=Support; 2=Strongly support.
  • Topic: Crime
  • Headline: No death penalty without considering mitigating evidence (Score: -1)
  • Headline 2: Death penalty OK if no mitigating evidence (Score: 1)
  • Headline 3: Shorten time between sentencing and executions (Score: 2)

  • Key for participation codes:
  • Sponsorships: p=sponsored; o=co-sponsored; s=signed
  • Memberships: c=chair; m=member; e=endorsed; f=profiled; s=scored
  • Resolutions: i=introduced; w=wrote; a=adopted
  • Cases: w=wrote; j=joined; d=dissented; c=concurred
  • Surveys: '+' supports; '-' opposes.

Democrats participating in 98-8384

Stephen Breyer j1US Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg j1US Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 

Republicans participating in 98-8384

Anthony Kennedy j2US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Sandra Day O`Connor w2US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2005) 
William Rehnquist w3dUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (until 2005) 
Antonin Scalia j3dUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
David Souter j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2009) 
John Paul Stevens w1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2010) 
Clarence Thomas j3dUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 

Independents participating in 98-8384

Total recorded by OnTheIssues:

Democrats: 2
Republicans: 7
Independents: 0

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