SCOTUS to determine whether Insanity Defense is a Constitutional Right

The Washington Post has an interesting article about an Idaho shooter who wants to claim an insanity defense in a state – Idaho – that is 1 of 4 states that does not recognize the defense.  Now, he is appealing to the SCOTUS and asking for his right to make an insanity defense be deemed a constitutional right:

Delling’s lawyers are now at the Supreme Court, asking the justices to rule that the Constitution mandates that such a defense be available for those who, because of mental illness, are not responsible for the mayhem they create.

“For centuries, the moral integrity of the criminal law has depended, in part, on the insanity defense,” Stanford law professor Jeffrey L. Fisher wrote in a petition on Delling’s behalf.

Punishment is traditionally justified on the basis of an individual consciously choosing evil over good, Fisher wrote. “Laws such as Idaho’s abandon that basic tenet,” he said.

Fisher contends that Idaho’s law violates the Constitution’s guarantee of due process of law, as well as the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

All states and the federal government once allowed the insanity defense. But that changed with the public outrage over John W. Hinckley Jr.’s acquittal for reasons of insanity in his assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981.



One response to “SCOTUS to determine whether Insanity Defense is a Constitutional Right

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