January 27 2017

It is so ordered.

Tonight, you have been asked to re-read the Wikipedia article and sections III and IV of Justice Stevens’ majority.  Next, please comment below on the specific reasons Justice Stevens gives for his decision.  In addition, please explain how Justice Stevens uses the rhetorical appeals — logos, pathos, and ethos — in his opinion.

OMM blog #9

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Posted January 27, 2017 by equinson in category Of Mice and Men

28 thoughts on “It is so ordered.

  1. Toa Neil

    Judge Stevens’ decision to not kill Atkins is supported by his reasoning. In his paper he mostly utilizes logos and ethos with little pathos. For example he uses facts and sites to support him also including a previous case. He also shows his credentials as a judge to increase people’s opinion of his opinion.

  2. tarika1

    In this reading, Judge Stevens uses logos, ethos, and pathos. He refers to other cases such as the Bowden execution, and Ford v. Wainwright. He also states many facts such as mentally retarded people not knowing that they are mentally retarded. He also gives the fact that mentally retarded people know what is right and what is wrong, but they do not have good communication skills. Also, him being a judge gives him a good sense of credibility and others will most likely trust him in law topics more than others. Finally he says, “Yet it is the same cognitive and behavioral impairments that make these defendants less morally culpable–for example, the diminished ability to understand and process information, to learn from experience, to engage in logical reasoning, or to control impulses–that also make it less likely that they can process the information of the possibility of execution as a penalty and, as a result, control their conduct based upon that information. Nor will exempting the mentally retarded from execution lessen the deterrent effect of the death penalty with respect to offenders who are not mentally retarded.”, which could touch some people. Him saying this is him showing the Pathos in his argument, explaining how the challenged people have a hard time being questioned and often do not get perceived in the best ways.

    1. charlottes

      The quote you included was a very good example of what you were trying to convey in your paragraph. Nice job!

  3. caias1

    Justice Stevens decides not to kill Atkins because he is considered mentally retarded. He uses very little pathos, but he uses a lot of ethos and logos. Stevens cites many former cases, uses the Eighth Amendment, and is credible as a judge. He states that, “Those mentally retarded persons who meet the law’s 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.” Stevens understands that a mentally disabled person does not always understand what they are doing, but still believes that they should be tried and punished for committing a crime.

  4. charlottes

    In the case Atkins v. Virginia, Justice Stevens makes the decision to not execute Daryl Atkins. Atkins was declared mentally retarded and had an IQ of 59, which is considered below average. In this case, Stevens uses little to no pathos. Pathos is mostly emotion and inspiration, but when you are a justice, you can’t let your emotions and the emotions of others get in the way of making the correct decision. He uses mostly logos and ethos in the case. He uses facts from previous cases in his reasoning. For example, he refers back to the cases Penry v. Lynaugh, Coker v.Georgia, Enmund v. Florida to support his opinion. Also, he talks about the Eighth Amendment and he is a valid judge. These are all examples of ethos. Stevens knows that a mentally retarded individual sometimes doesn’t know or understand what they are doing. He believes that despite this,. If they commit a crime, they must be sent to court and or punished for their actions.

  5. ilyssal

    Justice Stevens pardons Atkins from a death penalty. He made this decision because Atkins is mentally retarded and it is difficult for him to tell right from wrong. Stevens believes that mentally retarded people should be tried and punished for their crimes, he just does not think punishment should be as severe. The mentally retarded should not face maximum punishment in Stevens’ eyes because of their inability to tell right from wrong. It is a challenge for the disabled to control impulses and it truly is not their fault. Stevens cited many former cases about the mentally handicapped to defend his argument that they should be punished on a lower scale then a healthy, aware person would be punished on.

  6. maddy

    It is evident in sections III and IV of Justice Stevens’ majority that the primary rhetorical appeals being utilized are logos and ethos. Stevens utilized logos to support his decision by incorporating precedents set by previous cases similar to “Atkins vs. Virginia”, citing the Eighth Amendment, and mentioning the opposing stances of many states. He additionally made use of ethical rhetorics. This can be disputed as apparent in the following excerpt:

    “…it is the same cognitive and behavioral impairments that make these defendants less morally culpable–for example, the diminished ability to understand and process information, to learn from experience, to engage in logical reasoning, or to control impulses–that also make it less likely that they can process the information of the possibility of execution as a penalty and, as a result, control their conduct based upon that information.”

    In this quotation, Stevens depicts that these characteristics most mentally handicapped people possess is one of the reasons he views sentencing them to death as an unethical practice.

  7. sofiad1

    Judge Stevens uses Pathos frequently in his article. He uses the facts to defend what he says. He also cites very credible sources in order to assure us of the credibility, aka the state legislatures. He truly presents the case in a somewhat unbiased manner so we know the facts and the reasoning for the ruing.

  8. francescaa

    In the case Atkins v. Virginia, Supreme Court Justice Steven pardoned the execution of Daryl Atkins, a mentally retarded man with an IQ of 59. In his majority opinion essay, Steven’s used two of tactics of rhetorical appeal, logos and ethos. The reason why there wasn’t too much pathos in Steven’s essay is due to the fact that justices aren’t supposed to show emotion, rather they need to base decisions strictly off the law. Right from the very beginning the credibility of this source was clear. Since Steven is a Supreme Court justice, he does have superior knowledge about the law and the rights we have under it. By justifying his opinion by using the eighth amendment and by proving he is a justice, the reader knows that his argument is credible as well as convincing. In addition, Steven’s also uses logos to persuade his readers. Not only was his essay extremely thought out and organized, but his evidence was clear and was connected with his claim. He gives examples of previous cases where the mentally retarded have been pardoned from execution. He almost implied that he was following the precedents set by the previous cases where the question of executing the mentally retarded aroused. All in all, Justice Stevens’s essay was extremely well written and persuasive.

  9. arihantp1

    Justice Stevens pardons Daryl Atkins, and in his reasoning he uses lots of ethos and logos, but no pathos. Justices are not allowed to let their emotions get between them and the law, hence the lack of pathos. He uses lots of logos to persuade the readers. He sites many other cases such as Ford v. Wainwright, Gregg v. Georgia, Godfrey v. Georgia, and many others. He even uses the Eighth Amendment to support his reasoning as well. Since Stevens is a Supreme Court Justice his credibility is clear and he knows much more about the law than others. Upon his “independent evaluation of the issue,” he believes that the execution of mentally retarded criminals will not advance the retributive purpose of the death penalty, and will violate the Eighth Amendment.

    “concluded that death is not a suitable punishment for a mentally retarded criminal. We are not persuaded that the execution of mentally retarded criminals will measurably advance the deterrent or the retributive purpose of the death penalty…we therefore conclude that such punishment is excessive…”

    Justice Stevens uses lots of ethos and logos to persuade the readers to agree on his point of view on the case.

  10. avae1

    In his majority opinion, Justice Stevens described the Supreme Court’s decision to not execute Daryl Atkins in the case, Atkins vs. Virginia. He claims that because of Atkins’ mental disability, he is not capable of understanding his actions, and is unable to learn from them or understand what problem he has caused. “Because of their impairments, however, by definition they have diminished capacities to understand and process information, to communicate, to abstract from mistakes and learn from experience.” Therefore, they have excused him from a death sentence. Justice Stevens uses specific methods to better express his opinion. These methods include the use of ethos and logos for this case. Considering that he is a Justice on the Supreme Court, Stevens is highly credible, and can be well trusted for his resources. Examples from different cases of similar matters such as, Gregg v. Georgia, Godfrey v. Georgia, and Ford v. Wainwright are in use. Additionally, the significance of the Eighth Amendment is displayed to further credit his opinion. Stevens makes a very organized claim and evidence that clearly supports his opinion. Logos is displayed when he states the capabilities of a mentally retarded person, and connects it to how because of these limitations, they do not deserve to be punished with death. There is little pathos in his reasoning, due to the fact that often it is not used by justices so they can make clear opinions and decisions.

  11. marinas1

    In the case “Atkins vs. Virginia”, Justice Stevens explains why Daryl Atkins in not to be executed. He uses evidence from the past, giving a general outline on the outlawing of the executions of mentally disabled individuals, depicting how the world has continued to evolve over the years, with more and more people becoming against the idea. He says, “The practice, therefore, has become truly unusual, and it is fair to say that a natural consensus has developed against it”, establishing the idea that more people are against the death penalty for mentally incompetent individuals than people for it. Justice Stevens the goes on to say that although mentally disabled people can distinguish between right and wrong, they also have little understanding of communication skills, learning from mistakes, engaging in logical reasoning, and controlling impulses. Therefore, it is not morally correct or purposeful to kill a mentally disabled individual for committing an awful crime. Last but not least, Justice Stevens (unsurprisingly) refers to the Eighth Amendment, saying, “in light of our ‘evolving standards of decency'”.

    In his order, Justice Stevens uses specific rehetorical skills. These certain methods are both logos and pathos. First of all, Justice Stevens uses logos all throughout his “majority opinion”. For example, in part three, Justice Stevens outlines how the mentally disabled have been used in capital punishment, and how the national consensus has evolved in regards to the mentally disabled in criminal punishment. He also quotes lines from other people, such as “it seems likely that ‘capital punishment can serve as a deterrent only when murder is the result of premeditation and deliberation'”, from “Endmund”. Such examples of logos show the reader how the world has evolved over the years and why now it would truly be senseless to kill the mentally disabled in the world the reader lives in today. In addition, Justice Stevens uses pathos, and makes the reader feel bad for the mentally disabled. Justice Stevens declares “Because of their impairments, however, by definition they have diminished capacities to understand and process information, to communicate, to abstract from mistakes and learn from experience, to engage in logical reasoning, to control impulses, and to understand the reactions of others.” In a way, this quote is supposed to make one feel bed for a mentally incompetent individual, who can not preform simple tasks that most can do any day. Although this quote is logos, for it states regularly known facts about the disabled, it still stirs sympathy for the disabled in one’s heart.

  12. alexo

    In Stevens’ final verdict, we can find a lot of logos and pathos. We find very little Ethos because there would be no real reason to use it – he’s not trying to inspire the masses, he is trying to explain why he did not execute Atkins. His reasons, and the majority’s reasons, are that he was not capable of understanding the horror of his actions, not capable of telling right from wrong. He says that as terrible as the actions of Atkins was, he would never be able to fully process it, and should not be punished for what he cannot understand.

  13. Kat

    Justice Stevens uses logos, ethos, and pathos when saying that he wants believes Daryl Atkins should not be executed. Justice Stevens compares this case to the ideals in the 8th amendment. He uses the phrase “cruel and unusual punishment”. He uses logos here. The government is seen as organized and formal. The constitution is the basis of our government and our laws, so using an amendment seems logical. Later on Justice Stevens uses another example, ” In 1988, when Congress enacted legislation reinstating the federal death penalty, it expressly provided that a “sentence of death shall not be carried out upon a person who is mentally retarded.” In 1989, Maryland enacted a similar prohibition.” He uses this example to show that other states agree with his verdict and we should follow their example. When talking about the mentally disabled Justice Stevens uses pathos and ethos. He creates empathy for Atkins. He talks about how mentally disabled people should not be executed. He creates empathy for the mentally disabled. Saying that executing Atkins would be unfair since many other states have the policies and laws that mentally disabled citizens should be spared from execution.

  14. briannag3

    While reading I noticed Justice Stevens uses more of ethos and logos in his argument that Daryl Atkins shouldn’t be executed more than pathos. Justices are not allowed to get their emotions into the ruling so there was not much pathos. His words are unbiased and he uses the fact that the world has changed and now many people are now against execution of the mentally ill. Stevens talks about how Atkins didn’t know what he was doing because he was not aware of the line between right and wrong.

  15. cameronl3

    Justice Stevens makes the decision to spare Atkins of his life due to his mental condition. Since he can not tell the difference from right or wrong, he felt it was only necessary to pardon him from the death penalty. Although he knows that Atkins did something wrong and should be punished, he believes that there is a way of handling things in a less severe way. He understands that those with mental abilities do not understand what the consequences of certain things are. Stevens alse uses lots of evidence to back up hid reasoning by using other cases of these types of situations as examples. He states that those with mental disabilities should be punished in a less brutal manner than those who understand what they did wrong.

  16. adam

    Justice Stevens uses many rhetoric tactics in his decision to spare Atkins’s life. He uses Ethos and Logos in his explanation and reasoning, but not much Pathos. He does not use pathos as one is unable to use their own emotions and feelings as evidence in a trial. Stevens grants pardon to Atkins because he is mentally ill and retarded, so he states he does not have the skill to tell right from wrong. Although he does believe the mentally ill should be put on trial and punished , it should not be as serious . He backs his ruling with facts from previous cases. He understands and believes that it is a challenge for one who is retarded to control their instincts and be aware of surroundings , so does not give the ultimate penalty, but rather let’s him live. Although he is still punished, it is not as severe as a person with stable IQ would be.

  17. laurena2

    Justice Stevens pardons Atkins from the death penalty. This is because he truly believed that Atkins was mentally disabled and was unable to tell the difference between right and wrong. With an IQ of 59, Stevens decided that that the death penalty would be unfair. By making the death penalty seem unfair, he used the form of persuasion called ethos. Stevens also used logos by referring to the eighth amendment and previous cases to justify his decision of letting Atkins live. Like a good judge should, Stevens used little to no pathos, which allowed him to make a non-biased decision. Overall, Stevens was very fair in the decision to let Atkins pass the death penalty.

  18. George

    The reason Justice Stevens pardons Atkins from the death penalty is because he has sympathy and he uses a just unbiased approach to the case. He looked at the evidence provided and he found the just and right resolution to the case. He recognised that the man was mentally disabled and had an IQ of 59. He realised that he couldn’t make decisions for himself and pardoned him because he has sympathy for him. He used logos because he only used facts and didn’t stray to what he may or may not have believed himself. He only used logic.

  19. Esha Pandya

    In the “Atkins vs. Virginia” case, Justice Stevens gives his opinion on why Atkins should not be executed. He gives evidence to support his opinion, stating examples of cases of how the mentally disabled were treated. Justice Stevens also states the decision many states made to outlaw the executions of those who were mentally disabled. Over the years, many states have agreed to prevent mentally disabled people to be executed. Justice Stevens goes on to say that since several states have reached the same consensus, “…our society views mentally retarded offenders as categorically less culpable than the average criminal.” In other words, those who are mentally disabled are seen more as innocent, and someone who cannot be at fault for their actions in today’s society.

    Justice Stevens uses all three of the rhetorical appeals: ethos, logos, and pathos. However, more of his opinion is filled with logos and pathos. He gives several examples of how mentally disabled were affected by capital punishment. In several cases, the execution of someone with a mental disability has been avoided. “…we set aside a death sentence because the petitioner’s crimes did not reflect ‘a consciousness materially more ‘depraved’ than that of any person guilty of murder.’” In this case of “Godfrey vs. Georgia”, the death sentence was not carried due to the lack of “corrupt” motive of the mentally disabled individual. Justice Stevens mentions several other cases where a similar situation had occurred. Justice Stevens gives a large use of logos while also using pathos. He declares how executing a mentally disabled individual is unjust and makes no difference in what is trying to be accomplished. “Thus, executing the mentally retarded will not measurably further the goal of deterrence.” He connects to our more humane side by saying how a life would be wasted while trying to stop the execution of mentally disabled people. It makes no point to carry out with the execution, except for pain that was not deserved. From this, we are supposed to feel both angered by the system, and sympathetic towards those who are mentally disabled. The system should not execute someone, whether they have a disability or not, to prove a point.

  20. alekhya

    In sections III and IV Justice Stevens explains his decision to spare Atkins life due to his mental retardation. To support his opinion he uses logos and ethos but those not use pathos to convince his audience. As he begins to express his opinion Justice Stevens provides evidence and information to increase his credibility and make his audience feel that he is knowledgeable in the subject. “It was in that year that we decided Penry, and concluded that those two state enactments, “even when added to the 14 States that have rejected capital punishment completely, do not provide sufficient evidence at present of a national consensus.” 492 U.S., at 334. In providing these details Justice Stevens increases the chances of his audience believing him.
    When he provides the evidence Judge Stevens uses logic to prove its point, making it seem as if though his point makes sense. “Yet it is the same cognitive and behavioral impairments that make these defendants less morally culpable…” Justice Stevens is trying to explain the simple point that if someone has cognitive and behavioral impairments they are less deserving of blame. But in his argument Justice Stevens does not use the rhetorical appeal of pathos to sway his audience, he does not incorporate any feeling or sympathy.

    Justice Stevens believes that executing a mentally retarded person goes against the eight amendment and that it does not carry out the job of the system. “Construing and applying the Eighth Amendment in the light of our “evolving standards of decency,” we therefore conclude that such punishment is excessive and that the Constitution “places a substantive restriction on the State’s power to take the life” of a mentally retarded offender.”

  21. willowm

    Justice Stevens decided to spare Atkins’ life. He believes that Atkins could not determine the difference between right and wrong because of his mental disability. Although it is clear that what Atkins did was wrong, Stevens believed he should receive a less severe sentence. He understood that it may be difficult for the mentally disabled to comprehend the consequences of their actions. Stevens uses logos and ethos. He uses logos when he brings up the point that sentencing Atkins may have been a violation of the Eight Amendment. He uses ethos by providing lots of evidence to back up his argument. He doesn’t think Atkins should receive the same sentence as someone who completely understood what they were doing.

  22. Rebecca F

    In his statement, Justice Stevens uses ethos, logos, and pathos to explain the reasoning behind allowing Atkins to live. However, he tends to use ethos and logos more.
    Justice Stevens is a judge and therefore has more credibility than most. He is more likely to have accurate information. It is also more feasible that he would know the law and be able to interpret it fairly.
    Stevens writes that it would have been a breach of the Eighth Amendment if Atkins were to be executed. This appeals to logos. Stevens clearly states the law and the fact that to kill a mentally disabled person would be breaking the law.
    Justice Stevens does not put any emotion into his statement. He relies only the law and what it says.

    1. christophert3

      I agree, Justice Stevens does not intentionally use pathos or it may be that he just doesn’t use it as much but he mixes it in a a bit with his argument. But as you said, he uses a lot more ethos and logos. Maybe it’s because he’s a judge.

  23. Tyler Newby

    Justice Stevens constantly uses ethos and logos in his report. Stevens repeatedly uses his position as a Justice, and references other cases to support ethos. Stevens gives almost entirely facts throughout his report and he rarely uses pathos. Stevens mainly uses facts but includes his own opinion in the mix.

  24. margauxc

    The opinion of the Court in regards towards Atkins v. Virginia was clarified within Justice Stevens’ verdict- which exempted Atkins from the death penalty. Throughout Justice Stevens’ majority, usage of the rhetorical appeals are evident- Logos primarily being the art emphasized consistently. Stevens provides several pieces of evidence to defend his stance on the death penalty, such as referencing past cases and regulations set by Congress and the Court such as the ruling set by Enmund v. Florida- “Unless the imposition of the death penalty on a mentally retarded person ‘measurably contributes to one or both of these goals, it ‘is nothing more than the purposeless and needless imposition of pain and suffering,’ and hence an unconstitutional punishment.” This statement correlates with the Eighth Amendment, which opposes cruel and unusual punishment. Justice Stevens also mentions that, “In 1988, when Congress enacted legislation reinstating the federal death penalty, it expressly provided that a ‘sentence of death shall not be carried out upon a person who is mentally retarded.’” Through referencing Congress’ actions in 1988, Justice Stevens enforces the credibility of his actions- which can, in a certain perspective, be seen as Ethos. Throughout Stevens’ majority, Pathos is not clearly emphasized through his words, but can be subtly be detected through his word choice. During Stevens; concluding paragraphs, he includes the phrase “wrongful execution” – which can be seen as an attempt to evoke morality.

  25. christophert3

    Justice Stevens uses the elements of persuasion in the article to argue about how the execution of Atkins was unjust. For logos, Stevens uses lots of reasoning and evidence from past cases to show how the death penalty of Atkins is unjust and bringing up cases for similar matters that either relate to mental retardation or the 8th Amendment. For ethos, Judge Stevens makes many references to previous cases, as was just mentioned, as well as references to things the other judges have said. He also gives outlines about subjects that some people may not know about that he, being a Supreme Court Judge, does. Though he does not use a lot of pathos or any sections dedicated to the use of pathos alone, the use of pathos can be found mixed into his argument through some of his reasoning along with his word choice. These are how Judge Stevens uses the persuasive elements in his argument.


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