Substantial Guidance Without Substantive Guides: Resolving the Requirements of Moore v. Texas and Hall v. Florida
When the Supreme Court banned the execution of the intellectually disabled in Atkins v. Virginia, it partially left the criteria for identifying members of that group to the states. Since then, the decisions in Hall v. Florida and Moore v. Texas have given guidance to the states on how far they may restrict the definition of that class, but did not purport to strictly hold the states to clinical definitions. The tension between state freedom to define the class and the influence of clinical definitions on what the state may or must include has produced confusion on what restrictions the states must follow. This Note examines the language and rationales in Hall and Moore, ultimately concluding that Hall’s emphasis on the independent judgment prong of Eighth Amendment analysis and Moore’s focus on risk suggest an equal protection framework is appropriate for defining the class of defendants protected by Atkins.
J.D. Candidate, 2017, Vanderbilt University Law School; M.A., 2008, Oklahoma City University; B.A., 2006, Saint Olaf College.