Supreme Court Appears Skeptical About Use Of IQ Scores In Execution Decisions

The AP (3/4, Sherman) reports that a majority of Supreme Court justices on Monday indicated “that states should look beyond an intelligence test score in borderline cases of mental disability to determine whether a death row inmate is eligible to be executed.” The court “heard arguments about how states evaluate claims of mental disability that, if substantiated, protect inmates from being put to death,” and five justices “pointed repeatedly to the margin of error inherent in IQ and other standardized tests” and “voiced skepticism about the practice in Florida and certain other states of barring an inmate from claiming mental disability when his IQ score is just above 70.”

USA Today (3/4, Wolf) reports that the key issue in the case at bar “is whether states such as Florida can apply a rigid test score cutoff without including the ‘standard error of measurement’ relied on by the tests’ designers and endorsed by two key clinical groups.” The court’s decision in the Florida case “will mark the first time it has returned to its landmark 2002 decision in Atkins v. Virginia that said executing people with intellectual disabilities violates their 8th Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment.”

Related Links:

— “Justices lean toward defendant in mental disability case
,” Richard Wolf, USA Today, March 3, 2014.

Posted in In The News.