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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…

German state to finally get rid of death penalty

Frankfurt, Germany
Frankfurt, Germany
The central state of Hesse is overhauling their constitution, making sure to get rid of one thing in particular that no other state has: the death penalty.

In the wake of the Second World War, Germany wrote a new Constitution with reforms intended to shake off its violent Nazi past, including to clearly define where the country newly stood on the death penalty.

"Capital punishment is abolished," states Article 102 simply, with no further explanation.

The Constitution, or Grundgesetz, was signed in 1949, but just three years before, the state of Hesse apparently had its own ideas about capital punishment.

"For especially severe crimes, the sentence can be death," dictates Article 21 of Hesse's state constitution, written in 1946.

Now, 70 years later, Hesse is at last working to clear up this inconsistency.

When the Grundgesetz was approved, it immediately superseded the state law, thus making Article 21 essentially irrelevant. Even during the three years in between those legal documents being signed, capital punishment was never exercised in Hesse, though it was used in other parts of the country, according to Tagesspiegel.

Hesse's state legislators met this week to discuss reforming the constitution, which would also include changes like lowering the minimum age of voting in state elections from 21 to 18 - something else unusual to Hesse.

The last time Hesse attempted to negotiate a similar major constitutional reform, which included changing the death penalty, was between 2003 and 2005, Hesse parliament spokeswoman Carola May told The Local. But the various parties could not agree on the proposed changes. The death penalty remained.

To finalize the reform, Hesse will have to put forth a referendum to the people.

In Europe, only Belarus maintains the death penalty in both law and practice, while 102 countries worldwide have abolished it.

In a surprising survey 2 years ago, a law professor in Bavaria found that 1/3 of his students and aspiring lawyers supported the death penalty.

Source: thelocal.de, March 18, 2016

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