EL PASO, Texas - The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a Texas death row inmate can't be executed because he is intellectually disabled.
The case involving Bobby James Moore is the one that El Paso state representative Joe Moody and other state lawmakers have been using as the basis for a push for death penalty reform in Texas.
"I think it confirms what many of us knew," said Moody, (D) District 78, in a phone interview with ABC-7. "The issue is whether we are (carrying out the death penalty) constitutionally, not about whether we have the death penalty or not. It's about making a more fair criminal justice system."
Moore was sentenced to death after being convicted in a 1980 shooting of a Houston-area grocery store clerk.
For years, Moore's attorneys argued that he should not be executed because of his intellectual disability. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the defense in 2017, but their ruling called for the Texas state legislature to reform how it carries out the death penalty. State lawmakers had not taken up death penalty reform in following legislative sessions.
With this new ruling, Moody said he hopes his fellow legislators get the message.
"I think it shines a very bright light on an issue that not a lot of people want to deal with because it's difficult, it's complicated, and it's complex when you're talking about the death penalty," Moody said. "And hopefully the Supreme Court has done us a favor with this decision to shine a light on this issue and hopefully prod the legislature to pass a bill this session."
Moody said he co-authored a reform bill with a fellow legislator from the Houston area. He also said the various House committees are only just beginning to hear bills, so he is optimistic that the bill will have a chance to be discussed and ultimately passed.