Lexington, KY 40506-0048
- Clark Neily, Institute for Justice
The Supreme Court issued a number of notable opinions in the area of criminal law during the recently concluded term. Members of the Federalist Society’s Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Executive Committee offered their analysis on recent developments in the Supreme Court’s criminal law jurisprudence and fielded questions from a call-in audience.
On May 27, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Hall v. Florida. The question in the case is whether the Florida scheme for identifying intellectually disabled defendants in capital cases violates Atkins v. Virginia. In an opinion delivered by Justice Kennedy, the Court held that the relevant Florida law, under which all further exploration of intellectual disability is foreclosed if a prisoner is deemed to have an IQ above 70, creates an unacceptable risk that persons with intellectual disability will be executed, and thus is unconstitutional. Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined the opinion of the Court. Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion, which Chief Justice Roberts, as well as Justices Scalia and Thomas, joined. The decision of the Supreme Court of Florida was reversed and the case remanded.
To discuss the case, we have Mr. Kent Scheidegger, who is the Legal Director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.
Welcome to our Federal City. It is, of course, entirely fitting that we lawyers gather here in this home of our government. We Americans, after all, rightly pride ourselves on having produced the greatest political wonder of the world-a government of laws and not of men. Thomas Paine was right: "America has no monarch: Here the law is king."
Perhaps nothing underscores Paine's assessment quite as much as the eager anticipation with which Americans await the conclusion of the term of the Supreme Court. Lawyers and laymen alike regard the Court not so much with awe as with a healthy respect. The law matters here and the business of our highest court-the subject of my remarks today-is crucially important to our political order.