Moore v. Texas Case Brief

Posted: November 1, 2016 by beguide in case summaries, Death Penalty, Fantasy Supreme Court League, The Breyer Scale, Uncategorized


For every case in the podcast and the Fantasy League, we will provide a summary with important issues and what to worry about.

WHAT HAPPENED: In 2002, the Supreme Court held that States could not sentence a defendant to the death penalty if it was proven that defendant possessed intellectual disabilities.  The Court did not set a standard for what qualifies as intellectual disabilities and left that decision to individual States.
WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT: Texas uses a standard that is not just out-of-date, but it’s so out-of-date that the agency that created the standard has since disavowed it for being out-of-date.  The Defendant in this case qualifies did not qualify under this standard, but presumably could qualify for a standard that is more in tune with modern practices.
WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS: There are three possible outcomes, with a modicum of fear-mongering sprinkled in.
(1) The Court does nothing and allows States to make whatever standards they want under this Rule.  Without a floor, States could make the standard much higher and execute whomever they please.
(2)  The Court refuses to set a national standard, but holds that picking a standard that is so antiquated that the people who made it publicly denounce their findings is not permitted.  With no definitive standard, Texas picks a new standard that hasn’t been disavowed by its creator and we do this throughout infinity.
(3)  The Court not only strikes the Texas standard, but also sets a requirement that all States must meet, thus substituting its judgment (which could be no more than five justices), for that of all fifty States.  States with a lower standard are now required to redo their standards via legislative action, which at very least presses pause on the death penalty in more than a few jurisdictions.
ROOT FOR option 1 (Texas) if a proponent of executing people with a mental handicap.
ROOT FOR option 2 (Moore) if you are a proponent of stopping the execution of this particular defendant, but probably no one else.
ROOT FOR option 3 (Moore) if you are a proponent of no executions for people with a mental handicap, and/or the death penalty in general.

PREDICTION:  Option 2 by a vote of 5-3

  1. […] insight displayed by Josh from Oregon and Austin from LA, who both nailed all the details in Moore v. Texas. A lot of folks out there who could gain massive amounts of points by filling out the past ballots. […]


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