Let me see if I’ve got this right:
If a convicted baby rapist murderer is sentenced to the penalty of death for his crime, and he is slightly more intelligent than an imbecile, then it is not considered cruel and unusual punishment, and is therefore perfectly fitting and proper to snuff out his life.
He’s too smart to live.
But if the same baby rapist murderer is slightly less or just about as intelligent as an ordinary imbecile, then it should be considered cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, and therefore not proper to put him to death.
He’s too dumb to die.
That’s the bizarre conclusion and holding of a 5-4 majority of the nine Justices on the United States Supreme Court this week in the case of Hall v. Florida. Actually, they were merely reaffirming their earlier 2002 decision in a similar case that the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments forbid the execution of persons with intellectual disability.
In other words, if a baby rapist murderer scores higher on a standard IQ test than a common moron; he doesn’t deserve equal protection of the law, i.e. the same protections accorded to a dumber baby rapist murderer by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which forbid cruel and unusual punishment.
“No legitimate penological purpose is served by executing the intellectually disabled,” reasoned the majority. Furthermore, such individuals face “a special risk of wrongful execution,” said the Court.
But where in the United States Constitution does it say that dumb defendants must be considered differently than smart defendants when it comes to punishment for precisely the same criminal conduct?
If executing dumb people is cruel and unusual punishment violative of the Eighth Amendment, (and I think it surely is), why isn’t the same just as true for smarter people?
I think it is. Relative intelligence has nothing to do with it.
The Court’s reasoning here is plainly manufactured out of thin air. If intellectually deficient defendants should not be put to death because it’s cruel and unusual punishment, it only stands to reason that intellectually sufficient defendants should also be spared the death penalty. After all, every defendant sentenced to death faces the real risk of wrongful execution.
There is no remedy for a wrongful execution. Death is final. But our Supreme Court has decided, quite arbitrarily I think, that some of us are just too smart to live and others too dumb to die.