Emily Taft

Document Type

Supreme Court Commentaries

Publication Date



Eighth Amendment, Death Penalty, Intellectual Disability Standards

Subject Category

Constitutional Law | Supreme Court of the United States


In Moore v. Texas, the Supreme Court will consider whether the Eighth Amendment requires States to adhere to a particular organization’s most recent clinical definition of intellectual disability in determining whether a person is exempt from the death penalty under Atkins v. Virginia and Hall v. Florida. Generally, the Supreme Court has carved away at the death penalty with each new case it takes. This commentary argues that the Supreme Court should not continue that trend in this case and should find for Texas because the state’s intellectual disability determination is consistent with the Eighth Amendment under Atkins and Hall. Further, because the medical field is so fluid, requiring states to constantly change their frameworks will cause judicial instability and uncertainty in the adjudication of death penalty cases.