facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Supreme Court strikes down 70 IQ as cutoff for the death penalty

The Supreme Court ruled for a Florida inmate Tuesday in a challenge to a law setting a 70 IQ as the benchmark in death penalty cases. Jus
By Frances Burns   |   May 27, 2014 at 4:28 PM   |   Comments

| License Photo
WASHINGTON, May 27 (UPI) -- Justice Anthony Kennedy called intellectual disability "a condition, not a number" Tuesday as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 70 IQ as the cutoff for executions.

The court, as in many recent controversial rulings, divided 5-4. Kennedy, widely seen as the swing vote, wrote the majority opinion striking down a Florida law.

Florida and some other states had adopted the standard of an IQ of 70 measured by standard intelligence tests after the high court ruled 6-3 in 2002 that putting those with intellectual disabilities to death is unconstitutional.

"Intellectual disability is a condition, not a number," Kennedy wrote. "In using these scores to assess a defendant's eligibility for the death penalty, a State must afford these test scores the same studied skepticism that those who design and use the tests do, and understand that an IQ test score represents a range rather than a fixed number."

Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the minority, said that Kennedy was not giving enough recognition to the powers of state legislatures. He also suggested that inmates facing execution are tested many times, reducing the margin of error.

"The Court's approach in this case marks a new and most unwise turn in our Eighth Amendment case law," Alito wrote. "Under our modern Eighth Amendment cases, what counts are our society's standards --which is to say, the standards of the American people -- not the standards of professional associations, which at best represent the views of a small professional elite."

The Florida law was challenged on behalf of Freddie Lee Hall, who was sentenced to death for killing a young pregnant woman in 1978. Hall tested at between 60 and 80, but the lower scores were dismissed.

In mid-May, a federal appeals court granted a stay to Robert James Campbell, hours before he was to be executed in Texas for raping and killing a young bank teller. Campbell's lawyers argued that Texas officials concealed test results that showed he is intellectually disabled.

© 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Texas cheer coach Ashley Zehnder faces sex charge for sleeping with a student and sending nude sexts Texas cheer coach Ashley Zehnder faces sex charge for sleeping with a student and sending nude sexts
2
Freedom variant LCS takes to water Freedom variant LCS takes to water
3
Missing college student Connor Trapatsos spotted on surveillance video Missing college student Connor Trapatsos spotted on surveillance video
4
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder officially bans sales of Tesla Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder officially bans sales of Tesla
5
Boy hunter, 11, shoots rare albino deer with crossbow Boy hunter, 11, shoots rare albino deer with crossbow
Trending News
Around the Web
x
Feedback