Kahler v. Kansas: Ask the Wrong Question, You Get the Wrong Answer

16 Pages Posted: 15 May 2020

See all articles by Joshua Dressler

Joshua Dressler

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Date Written: May 15, 2020

Abstract

In Kahler v. Kansas, the Supreme Court held that the Kansas did not violate the Due Process Clause when it abolished the insanity defense. The outcome was predictable, but it reached its result in a particularly odd way. The Court does not say that abolition of the insanity defense is constitutional, but rather that Kansas did not really abolish the insanity defense at all. I seek to show in this article that the Court’s analysis is wrong as a matter of constitutional law and proper understanding of criminal law principles. One important lesson from this case is this: when you ask the wrong question, you get the wrong answer.

Keywords: insanity, criminal defenses, criminal responsibility, constitutional law

Suggested Citation

Dressler, Joshua, Kahler v. Kansas: Ask the Wrong Question, You Get the Wrong Answer (May 15, 2020). Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2020; Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 546. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3601780

Joshua Dressler (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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