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Supreme Court denies review for death-row inmates claiming intellectual disability

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Mondaydenied [order list, PDF] the petitions of Pervis Payne, Michael Sample, and Vincent Sims [SCOTUSblog backgrounders], three Tennessee death-row inmates who argued they should not be executed due to their intellectual disabilities. In their petition [text, PDF], Sims and Sample argued that Tennessee failed to retroactively apply the court's ruling in Hall v. Florida [opinion], which prohibited states from relying solely on intelligence test scores to determine whether a death row inmate is eligible for execution or not in borderline cases. Payne's petition [text, PDF] made the same argument. The Supreme Court outlawed [ACLU backgrounder] the execution of those with intellectual disabilities in 2002.

The death penalty has been a pressing issue across the country. Last month the Mississippi house approved a bill [JURIST report] allowing firing squad executions. Also last month a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio refused to lift [JURIST report] a preliminary injunction that delays executions in Ohio. In January Judge Michael Merz blocked [JURIST report] Ohio's lethal injection protocol by deeming it unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. Also in January the US Supreme Court refused [JURIST report] to consider a challenge to Alabama's death penalty system. In December a report by the Death Penalty Information Center found that the use of capital punishment in the US is at a 20-year low [JURIST report].

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