Few under the age of fifty are aware that during the 1960s the Supreme Court declared that the death penalty violated the Constitution. Of course, the Supreme Court, until modern times, also made clear that laws could be passed restricting access to weapons. IN a surprising decision of 5-4 the Supreme Court over ruled a Florida law which would allow a mentally retarded person to be executed. Freddie Lee Hall has been on Death Row for 36 years as the battle over his life or death is raged in courts. He was found guilty of participating in the rape and death of a pregnant woman whose car the robbers wanted to steal. A deputy sheriff was also killed during the robbery of a grocery store.
Mr. Hall has an IQ of 71 and the cut off point for being judged mentally disabled is 70. Justice Anthony Kennedy emphasized in the majority decision: “The death penalty is the gravest sentence our society can impose” and it must be absolutely proven the person to be sent to death deserves to be killed. He argued the Florida law “contravenes our nation’s commitment to dignity and its duty to teach human dignity. The majority ruled,that in addition to IQ scores, other factors should be considered.