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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…

On death row 35 years, Texas inmate dies of natural causes

Typical death-row cell, Polunsky Unit, Texas
Typical death-row cell, Polunsky Unit, Texas
Texas prison officials say a man on death row for 35 years for a Houston robbery where 3 people were shot and killed has died of natural causes.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark says 60-year-old Max Soffar died Sunday at the infirmary at the Polunsky Unit prison, home of the state's male death row.

Soffar had said he was being treated for liver cancer.

He was condemned in 1981, a year after the slayings of 17-year-old Arden Alane Felsher, her 17-year-old boyfriend, Tommy Lee Temple, and 25-year-old Stephen Allen Sims, an assistant manager at a bowling alley that was being robbed.

Soffar was retried in 2006 and convicted again.

Only 6 of the some 250 condemned inmates in Texas have served more time than Soffar.

Source: Associated Press, April 25, 2016

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