Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP
Noting that a Texas court had not followed his instructions, the US Supreme Court ruled that a Texas man who killed a shop assistant during a robbery attempt "is a person having an intellectual disability "and therefore can not be put to death.
This is the second time that the Supreme Court has intervened in the case, which stems from a robbery committed in 1980 and in which Bobby J. Moore had killed a store clerk. The question before the court was whether Moore did not have the intellectual capacity to put to death for his crime.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that the execution of mentally disabled persons was contrary to the prohibition of the death penalty provided by the Constitution. But in that decision, the judges left the States leeway over how to decide who was a "mental retardation", an expression the court was using at the time.
However, as reported NPR's legal correspondent, Nina Totenberg, the court said in 2014 that he could not use a rigid IQ to determine the "delay" and that his standards needed to be informed by the diagnostic framework of the medical community ".
So, after the Texas Criminal Court used outdated medical standards when it decided in 2015 that Moore was not intellectually handicapped, the Supreme Court overturned the decision. Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in 2017 by a majority of the five (3) votes that states' discretion was "limitless", claiming that Texas "was hanging on to outdated standards when the life of the United States was over." an individual was at stake.
The Supreme Court returned the case to Texas. The Texas court, promising to use more modern standards, nevertheless came to the same conclusion. On Tuesday, the High Court overturned the decision of the State Court – and this time, it decided itself that Moore was mentally deficient.
"We have found in his opinion too many cases in which, with small variations, he repeats the analysis that we previously considered insufficient, and those same parts are essential to his final conclusion," said the majority of judges in the courts below.
To determine whether a person had a developmental disability, the Texas court was much asked if his conduct showed leadership qualities and whether it could "hide the facts or lie effectively," reported the Associated Press. . But the Supreme Court said these factors were not based on current medical practice.
In his ruling on Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Liberal majority.
"The court repeated the same mistakes that this Court had previously condemned," he wrote in a concurring opinion. "This was not verified by this Court's analysis last time, which is still not the case."
Judges Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch disagreed, saying the majority had gone too far. Correcting the factual findings of the lower courts and reversing the judgment "is not our role," they wrote. "The Court's foray into fact-finding is a misguided departure from our usual practice."
Judge Brett Kavanaugh, whose name did not appear in the signed dissent, would likely have joined the majority, the New York Times reported.