Moore v. Texas

Next Tuesday the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Moore v. Texas. Bobby Moore is a person with intellectual disabilities sentenced to death in Texas; his story is neatly summarized by Tim Shriver in a recent Time magazine editorial:

“When Bobby Moore, a person with an intellectual disability, was 14-years old, his father became enraged that Moore couldn’t read and threw him out on the street. As a teen, Bobby did not understand the days of the week, how to tell time, and other basic information and skills.

Bobby ate out of trash cans, mowed lawns for money, and eventually lived in the back of a pool hall where he sometimes played pool. Like every person, including those with intellectual disability, Bobby was better at some things than others. With the help of others, he managed to survive.

But at the age of 20, Bobby was involved in a bungled robbery with two other people in which an employee was tragically shot and killed. He was convicted and sentenced to death. After a lower court found that Bobby had an intellectual disability and was therefore exempt from execution, Texas’s highest criminal court ruled that Bobby’s ability to play pool and mow lawns proved he never had an intellectual disability and could therefore be executed.”

Shriver argues that the standard applied by the Texas Supreme Court is incorrect and dangerous:

“The inaccurate Texas standard reinforces one of the most damaging stereotypes about people with intellectual disability—that they can’t be “good” at anything. The reasoning is dangerous and flawed: if you can mow a lawn, you can’t have an intellectual disability. If you have an intellectual disability, therefore, you can’t do anything. Both are wrong—dangerously wrong.”

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