Hall v. Florida: SCOTUS tries to define “intellectual disability”

In 2002 the Supreme Court Ruled that the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments forbid the execution of persons with intellectual disability.  Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304, 321 (2002), but failed to define “intellectual disability.”  Florida, home to George Zimmerman, Casey Anthony and Alan Grayson, defined an intellectual disability as having an IQ score of 70 or less.  Those with an IQ greater than 70, including Freddie Lee Hall at 71, were foreclosed from arguing they have an intellectual disability.  Today in Hall v. Floridain a 5-4 opinion the Supreme Court held: “This rigid rule…creates an unacceptable risk that persons with intellectual disability will be executed, and thus is unconstitutional.”  The opinion (discussed with greater detail and superior knowledge here) relies heavily on the medical community’s view that IQ tests are just one (imprecise) factor in assessing intellectual disability. 

For a discussion of the potential impact of Hall click here.

Click here for the full Opinion or visit the Library>Supreme Court Cases.


Author: COFPD

Federal Public Defender's Office for the Districts of Colorado and Wyoming