Mentally Retarded Man Will be Executed in Texas Today
In 2002 the Supreme Court ruled that executing the mentally retarded violated the Eighth Amendment. The Court left it up to individual states to decide on what procedures to use when determining whether defendants were in fact mentally retarded, or were falsely claiming to be so. (In a characteristically brutal dissent Justice Scalia argued that the inconvenience of sorting out false claims from valid ones was a good reason for not barring such executions.)
Subsequently, almost every capital punishment state that didn’t already have a statute dealing with the issue passed a law telling courts how to handle capital cases involving a claim of mental retardation. But the Texas legislature was too busy with such things as passing laws requiring students to pledge allegiance to the flags of the U.S. and Texas and spend a minute in “silent reflection” (right-wing code for prayer) to ever get around to dealing with the matter.
Living in a state that is managed by imbeciles or right wing ideologues can mean the death of someone you know or love. In this case, the defendant, Marvin Wilson, will most likely die, even though killing him is illegal. Even though I.Q. tests given to Wilson prove he has the I.Q. of a six year old, the state of Texas is still planning on killing him.
One would think that the Supreme Court would step in if a state knowingly violated its previous ruling, but the Court’s been silent on that front. But what does a Supreme Court verdict matter if states don’t take it seriously? We should all ask whether this is a new trend where the Supreme Court decides and the states just ignores the Court’s decisions. We may very well be entering an era where states’ rights trump the Supreme Court. That’s almost unfathomable, but that is the precedent set if the Supreme Court does not intervene in Wilson’s execution today.
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