TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on May 27, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 today that states may not rely only on intelligence test scores to determine whether a death row inmate is eligible to be executed if the inmate scores between 70 and 75, the AP reports. A score of 70 is widely accepted as a marker of mental disability, but medical professionals say those who score as high as 75 can be considered intellectually disabled because of the test’s margin of error. The mental health community had argued that an accurate diagnosis must include evaluation of an individual's ability to function in society. Until today’s ruling, the court had left it up to the states to determine the definition of mentally disabled. The decision impacts only those states with a fixed statistical cut-off for execution.