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Can States Abolish the Insanity Defense?

In the years following the 1981 assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan, five states abolished insanity as a defense to a murder charge. A convicted murderer from one of those states, Kansas, has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on grounds that the trial court’s refusal to allow the jury to consider insanity as a defense is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. The Court will hear the case this fall. Kansas will rely on the federalism argument that states have traditionally had considerable latitude to determine the substance of their criminal law. Read more here and here.