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Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

Ethical Responsibilities of Physicians: Capital Punishment in the 21st Century

Karen B. Rosenbaum, MD; William Connor Darby, MD; Robert Weinstock, MD

Psychiatric Annals


The United States is in the company of only 22 other countries with the death penalty.

The American Medical Association is among many medical professional organizations that prohibit the participation of physicians in the physical act of execution.

Despite these clear guidelines, debate remains regarding physician involvement in various aspects of death penalty cases.

This article outlines different positions that physicians and specifically forensic psychiatrists have taken on this issue.

Our position is that given the overwhelming secondary duty related to their physician role - specifically to do no harm - forensic psychiatrists should not use their expertise if they believe their involvement will be used for the primary purpose of obtaining a death penalty. 

Of necessity, forensic evaluations can do harm. But when something as extreme as death is concerned, the secondary medical duties preclude directly facilitating a person's death. [Psychiatr Ann. 2015;45(12):615 - 621.]

Source: healio.com, December 11, 2015

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