Supreme Court Bars Executing the Mentally Retarded:

“In one of the most important capital punishment cases in years, the United States Supreme Court ruled today that executing killers who are mentally retarded is unconstitutional.

The 6-to-3 ruling not only spared the life of Daryl R. Atkins, a Virginia inmate, at least for now, but could save scores of other death-row prisoners in the 20 states that still allow the execution of mentally retarded murderers. Thirty-eight states have capital punishment.” NY Times

Although this ruling opens a Pandora’s Box of complications — some of them akin to the ongoing controversy over the ‘insanity defense’ for the mentally ill — the humanity of not executing someone whose developmental level prevents them from appreciating the nature of their crime or the meaning of their death sentence seems manifest. Judging a society by how it treats its least able may still have some currency after all…