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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…

Mississippi House proposes firing squad as execution method

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi House wants to allow the state prison system to execute prisoners using a firing squad if officials decide lethal injection is too expensive or unavailable.

The House amended Senate Bill 2237 Friday before passing it 80-39, sending it back to the Senate for more work.

The measure makes secret the names of prison employees at an execution and the pharmacy providing lethal drugs.

It also makes secret the names of family members of the prisoner or crime victim.

First Amendment advocates say that measure unconstitutionally restrains free speech.

Supporters say the measure protects those involved in executions from harassment by people who oppose the death penalty.

Attorney General Jim Hood has asked lawmakers to approve alternate execution methods including the firing squad, electrocution and the use of nitrogen gas.

Source: The Associated Press, March 25, 2016

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