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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…

Saudi Arabia beheads Egyptian national

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Saudi Arabia has beheaded an Egyptian national after sentencing him to death on charges related to robbery and murder.

The convicted Egyptian man, identified as Mahmud Jumaa Morsi, was beheaded in the capital Riyadh on Wednesday, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The man was found guilty of fatally strangling and robbing a Saudi citizen, the ministry added.

According to AFP tallies, the latest execution brings to 54 the number of locals and foreigners put to death this year.

In the most stunning case, Saudi Arabia executed on January 2 Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr along 46 other people in defiance of international calls for the release of the prominent Shia cleric and other jailed political dissidents in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia carried out 153 executions, including 71 foreign nationals, in 2015. This number of executions in terms of annual basis in Saudi Arabia has been unseen since 1995.

Beheading with a sword is the most common form of execution in Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh has been under fire for having one of the world's highest execution rates.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Saudi regime to abolish its "ghastly" beheadings.

Under the Saudi law, apostasy, armed robbery, drug trafficking, rape, homosexuality and murder carry the death penalty. Most Saudi executions are carried out by beheading with a sword.

Source: Agence France-Presse, January 27, 2016

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