Supreme Court Case Will Determine Texas’ Definition of ‘Intellectual Disability’

Texas has staked its definition – used to determine whether someone can receive the death penalty – on a fictional character from ‘Of Mice and Men.’

By Alexandra HartNovember 28, 2016 2:12 pm,

Executing a person is illegal in the United States if that person is an inmate with a mental or intellectual disability, as ruled in the 2002 Supreme Court case Atkins v. Virginia. The court declared it in violation of a ban on the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

But after the case, Texas set its own definition of what constitutes an intellectual disability. And tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear a case regarding Texas’ standards. The outcome of which could have sweeping effects for the death penalty nationwide.

Bobby James Moore is at the center of the case. He’s been convicted of killing a Houston store clerk in 1980 and was sentenced to death.

Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, says the issue at stake is Texas’ definition of an adaptive deficit, one of the criteria for proving that a person has an intellectual disability.

What you’ll hear in this segment:
– How a person may prove they have an intellectual disability
– How Lennie from John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” plays into Texas’ definition of intellectual disabilities