In November 2009, James Kahler shot and killed his wife, his two daughters, and their grandmother. The defense expert testified that, due to Kahler’s mental illness, he did not make the rational choice to kill. Under Kansas law, Kahler could not argue that he was insane as a defense to the charges.

Can Kansas abolish the insanity defense without violating the Constitution? Lisa Soronen, Executive Director of the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC), explains the case of Kahler v. Kansas, which will decide whether a state can abolish the insanity defense without violating the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Oral argument is October 7, 2019.

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As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.

Learn more about Lisa Soronen:



Related Links:

SCOTUS to Decide Whether States May Abolish the Insanity Defense

Kahler v. Kansas - SCOTUSblog

Kahler v. Kansas - Oyez

Differing Views:

Consensus or Confusion: Determining the Constitutionality of the Insanity Defense

The Insanity Defense: A Closer Look

The insanity defense isn’t available in every state. It should be

Can a state abolish the insanity defense?

Clark v. Arizona: Diminishing the Right of Mentally Ill Individuals to a Full and Fair Defense