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View Diary: Supreme Court halts Florida's ability to execute the intellectually disabled (64 comments)

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  •  Where did Florida find (11+ / 0-)

    a bright line rule in Atkins v. Virginia?

    Footnote 5 of the opinion said in dicta ""It is estimated that between 1 and 3 percent has an IQ between 70 and 75 or lower [where petitioner in this case scored some of the time], which is typiclaly considered the cutoff IQ score for the intelelctual function prong of the mental retardation definition."  So, not only does the state's own evidence show he's below the "cutoff score," but Atkins makes clear it's but one prong.  That same footnote cited sentincing phase testimony, as well, that says the IQ score (59 in that case) was not an "aberration, malingered reuslt, or invalid test score."  This is exactly what Florida said didn't happen here.

    Look at footnote 3 of Atkins -- it makes clear that the term mental retardation is a test of functioning, "characterized" by intellectual functioning and other life skills.  It's not having a low IQ, as IQ is at best an approximation of intellectual functioning.  I would think an expert could conclude that someone is mentally retarded even if they score above 70 if the effects in other areas like self-care and social skills are proportionately lesser, and as such that evidence needs to be presented for due process, not just 8th amendment, concerns.

    The overall thrust of the Atkins opinion is evolving standard of decency, which means there's absolutely no basis for Florida's evidentiary rule.   Forget ideology for a second, this is just bad goddamn bluebooking.  The fact that it's done cynically, in the service of killing someone is just appalling.  OK, so Justice Stevens's law clerk shouldn't have said cut-off, mostly because he was describing a range or one part of a prong that'd be a rebuttable presumption.  But still, no honest reading of Atkins could support Florida's (or dissenters') interpretation.

    By the way, where's disability rights champion Sarah Palin on this topic, or does she only appear whenever a democrat lets slip the R-word?

    Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

    by Loge on Tue May 27, 2014 at 09:27:56 AM PDT

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