Moore v Texas

Moore sought review of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals decision affirming his death sentence arguing the standard used to evaluate his claim of intellectual disability was unconstitutional. The Court, 5-3, reversed. The majority held that the standard error of Moore’s IQ scores gave a range of 69 to 74 and thus consideration of intellectual function deficits was required. It held that Texas court of Criminal Appeals erred in applying its own standards instead of considering current clinical standards because the current focus in adaptive deficits is to focus on the deficits not strengths, the current treatment of childhood trauma is treat tehm as risk factors not as alternative causes, and the seven factor test utilized impeded assessment of the intellectual disability claim by focusing on Texas citizens’ views not the medical community’s current approach and further noted the approach in Texas capital cases is inconsistent with the way other states handle intellectual disability claims and the way Texas handles intellectual disability claims in other contexts. The case was remanded to evaluate Moore’s claim under the correct framework. Chief justice Roberts, joined by Thomas and Alito, dissented arguing that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals appropriately weighed the evidence and conflicting clinical standards to reach its decision rejecting Moore’s claim, that the majority abandoned Court precedent that judges, not doctors, determine who is or is not eligible for the death penalty and that the seven factor test was wrong, but, Moore failed to demonstrate the ultimate judgment here was erroneous.

Expressions Hair Designs v Schneiderman

Designs sought review of the 2nd Circuit decision dismissing their free speech challenge to New York’s ban on credit card surcharges. The court, with three justices concurring in judgment, reversed and remanded. The majority held that the challenge was only to a pricing scheme which states a cash price and further states a surcharge for using a credit card. It held that the 2nd Circuit’s interpretation of the state law here to apply to the pricing regime involved is not clearly wrong and thus entitled to deference. It held the New York statute regulated speech as it regulated how a merchant can communicate its prices and remanded the case to analyze whether the law impermissibly abridges commercial speech or is a permissible disclosure requirement. It finally held the law as applied here is not vague. Justice Breyer concurred in judgment arguing it is unclear whether the New York law requires mere disclosure or impinges on a protected interest and thus remand is appreciate and a certified question to the new York Court of Appeals may also be appropriate. Justice Sotomayor, joined by Alito, concurred in judgment arguing that the New York law is ambiguous having been interpreted three different ways by Schneiderman and other New York law enforcement officials during this litigation and certification of the meaning of the statute is best approach to get a definitive understanding of how the law operates as this would avoid state litigation which would be required under an abstention approach.