Georgia plans to execute Warren Lee Hill for bludgeoning a cellmate to death. I wouldn't want to be locked up with this guy. He's apparently a menace, or at least he was in 1990 when he committed the crime.
But didn't the Supreme Court had decided in 2002 that, whoever else this country executes, it shouldn't kill the "mentally retarded"?
Yes, that was the decision. But that merely turns the question of who is "mentally retarded" into something to be argued in the courts. Georgia requires that a claim of intellectual disability be proved "beyond a reasonable doubt." Hill's lawyers argued that his IQ is 70; Georgia responded that it is 77. (I have discussed previously that IQ measures nothing but skill at IQ tests but this is not the ground they are arguing on.) Both sides produced "experts." The American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities weighed in for Hill; they want the condition of their constituency to be taken seriously.
The Supremes punted, failing to uphold and follow through on defining the implications of their own ruling. So Hill is scheduled to die.
We wouldn't be litigating this stuff if we just locked up dangerous people until/unless they stopped being dangerous. But that wouldn't satisfy some people's need for "closure"/revenge.