Supreme Court takes up death penalty eligibility case

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 Lesson Title

Supreme Court takes up death penalty eligibility case

E-Newscast Video Link    

Video Length

Three minutes and thirty-two seconds

Grade Level

High School & Above


Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that it would revisit the 2002 ruling in Atkins v. Virginia this winter.  In May, the Florida Supreme Court supported the state’s decision to move forward with the execution of Freddie Hall, who has been on death row since 1982.  Ultimately, the Florida Supreme Court upheld that it was bound by the Atkins ruling.  Atkins barred the use of the death penalty for people with severe mental disabilities, but left eligibility determinations for who falls into this category up to the individual states.  In a majority decision, the Florida Supreme Court found that Hall is not mentally disabled.

Review Questions

The current ruling is that Hall is not mentally disabled.  What does this imply about his protection under the Atkins ruling?

The Atkins v. Virginia ruling did not establish requirements for who qualified as mentally disabled. What did the general consensus eventually decide was the IQ threshold for qualifying as being mentally disabled? Did Freddie Hall’s IQ fall in this range?

What grounds did Hall base his lawsuit on?

Free writing “Journal” Prompt

Do you think that Hall should receive the death penalty? Why or why not?

Do you think it is fair that people who qualify as mentally disabled should have protection from the death penalty? Why or why not?

What about this report do you have questions about, or want to know more about?