FEATURED POST

America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Dylann Roof challenges federal death penalty law as unconstitutional

Dylann Roof
Dylann Roof
Lawyers for Dylann Roof, the accused Charleston church shooter, filed a motion to challenge the constitutionality of the federal death penalty Monday.

Roof's lawyers argue that "the federal death penalty constitutes a legally prohibited, arbitrary, cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by both the Fifth and Eighth Amendments."

They continue to argue that the death penalty itself is unconstitutional in addition to the federal law:

The Federal Death Penalty Act "may have been designed with as much care as possible under the circumstances, the capital sentencing process that the statute provides is constitutionally inadequate in practice. The results of jurors' good-faith grappling with the law - arbitrary, biased, and erroneous death verdicts - are intolerable as a matter of due process and proportional punishment."

Roof faces 33 federal counts, including hate crimes, in the shooting deaths of nine black parishioners during a Bible study. 

His penalty trial is set to begin in November.

The challenge is being brought because the federal government is seeking the death penalty in the case after rejecting Roof's offer to plead guilty and accept multiple sentences of life in prison without the opportunity for parole, Buzzfeed reports.

Sources: The Dallas Morning News, Hannah Wise; The Associated Press, August 1, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

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