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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…

Kennedy considering retiring from Supreme Court: reports

Speculation is swirling that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy could announce his retirement as early as this term, The Associated Press and CNN reported Saturday.

Kennedy is considered the most pivotal justice on the Supreme Court, often known for casting the tie-breaking vote in key decisions. 

While he's among the court's conservative justices, he has sided with his liberal colleagues at times, including on the court's 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, permitting same-sex marriage nationwide. 

But Kennedy, now 80, is said to be considering stepping down from the Supreme Court, according to CNN, though he has not publicly signaled he will do so in the next year.

Fueling such speculation is a reunion between Kennedy and his clerks happening over the weekend that was pushed up a year from its original date, according to the AP.

If Kennedy leaves the Supreme Court in the near future, it would pave the way for President Trump to further shape the court by nominating his replacement. 

Trump's first pick for the court, Justice Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed in April.

Supreme Court nominations, however, have become increasingly political. 

Senate Republicans voted earlier this year to change the chamber's rules to require only 51 votes to confirm nominees to the high court, amid efforts by Democrats to block Gorsuch's confirmation. 

Source: The Hill, Max Greenwood, June 24, 2017

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