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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…

Louisiana: Judge to decide if death-row inmates get air conditioning

Louisiana's death row
Louisiana's death row
A federal judge will decide whether to order a Louisiana prison to install air conditioning for inmates on death row, according to the Associated Press.

Prison officials at Louisiana State Penitentiary have for three years maintained that ice, fans and a cold shower are enough to protect the inmates from heat and humidity.

The request for air conditioning came from three death-row inmates with medical problems.

U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson on Friday questioned why prison officials won’t spent the $1 million to install air conditioning for death-row inmates, especially when the state has already spent more than that to fight it in court.

A hearing is scheduled for June 15 for testimony about the effectiveness of the heat-control measures.

Jackson ruled in 2013 that it is unconstitutional to keep inmates where the heat index exceeds 88 degrees. An appeals court in 2015 rules prisoners could get heat relief without air conditioning and the state crafted a “heat remediation plan” involving cold showers, fans and ice chests. Lawyers for the inmates say the plan isn’t working, though.

Temperatures this year have already exceeded the 99-degree threshold.

“One must wonder: Is this really what the state wants to do?” Jackson asked. “It just seems so unnecessary.”

Source: The Hill, Jessie Hellmann, May 21, 2016

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