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Should a death row inmate's life hinge on an IQ test?

On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about a Florida man, Freddie Lee Hall, who faces execution for a 1978 murder. Hall is intellectually incapable of understanding the arguments, but the state of Florida says that it has the right to execute him nevertheless, in a case that spotlights both the barbarity and the absurdity of the death penalty.

This page has a long history of opposing capital punishment on the grounds of morality, overwhelming evidence of its misapplication and public expense, among other things. But even if we did see sense in the practice, we would see none in applying the death penalty here, despite the brutality of the crime. Hall and a partner were convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering Karol Hurst, who was 21 and pregnant; later that day, they allegedly shot and killed a deputy sheriff during a confrontation. This case centers on the Hurst murder.


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