Returning to two hotly controversial areas of criminal law, the Supreme Court on Thursday cut back on the constitutional protection against prosecutors’ use at trial of out-of-court accusations but added new firmness to the constitutional ban on the execution of convicted murderers who suffer from an intellectual disability. The rulings sent the Justices into varying blocs, sometimes with unpleasant exchanges.
The wide divisions in the rulings in a child abuse case — Ohio v. Clark — and in a murder case — Brumfield v. Cain — may have reflected in part the tensions due to late-in-the-Term pressures, but they also showed that the Justices sometimes find it easy to take conflicting paths to the same outcomes, making agreement look less like that.
Justice Alito delivers the opinion in Ohio v. Clark (Art Lien)
Probably the more significant of the two new rulings