If you’re not able to understand what you did, or the consequences of your actions, the question is whether or not you should be put to death by the state. State killing is wrong in any event, but if you are mentally disabled it’s especially cruel.
The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday it would hear a death row appeal from a Florida man ruled mentally disabled in 1992 but later found competent to be executed after he scored 71 on an IQ test, the minimum under state law.
In a brief order, the court said it would consider whether Florida used a lawful process to determine that convicted murderer Freddie Lee Hall, awaiting execution pending appeals, was not mentally disabled after all.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that states could not execute someone who was mentally disabled because doing so violated the U.S. Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, but the court left it to states to define who was disabled.
Hall’s case gives the court the opportunity to revisit the matter and possibly order some U.S. states to change how they determine who is eligible for the death penalty.