Last week, the Supreme Court issued a per curiam opinion summarily reversing the Texas Court of Criminal appeals and finding that a death row inmate has an intellectual disability. The case doesn’t break new doctrinal ground but it offers some possible insights about how several Justices on the newly constituted Court are positioned on capital cases.
In Moore v. Texas, which I discussed here, the Supreme Court of the United States held that courts must rely on current clinical standards when determining whether a defendant is intellectually disabled and so exempt from the death penalty. Must courts also defer to clinical standards when determining whether a defendant is insane and so exempt from criminal culpability? I don’t think so, for the reasons below.