The Department of Justice explains to the Supreme Court why it is fighting to get the Boston Bomber’s death sentence reinstated.
The Supreme Court heard the Justice Department’s arguments for why the death sentence should be reinstated for convicted Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev this week, in one of the most high-profile cases of the term.
After a lower federal appeals court overturned the jury’s 2015 judgment, the Justice Department, led by Joe Biden, attempted to urge the Supreme Court to impose the death penalty on Wednesday.
However, Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the court’s newest member, raised concerns about the largest elephant in the room: why the government would fight for reinstatement when Attorney General Merrick Garland has issued a federal moratorium on executions.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Barrett asked Deputy Solicitor General Eric Feigin of the Department of Justice, “I’m wondering what the government’s end game is here.” “So, the government has declared an execution moratorium, yet you’re here defending [Tsarnaev’s] death sentence.” “If you win, it’s likely that he’ll be forced to live under the prospect of a death sentence that the government won’t carry out.” So I’m just having difficulties understanding what you’re saying,” she explained.
The government, Feigin contended, is fighting for the death penalty to safeguard the verdict of the 12 jurors, who the DOJ stated were carefully chosen.
Last year, a federal appeals court in Boston decided that the trial judge did not ask enough questions of jurors about their exposure to news coverage of the bombing, which killed three people and injured hundreds more.
“The administration continues to think that the jury rendered a solid verdict and that the court of appeals erred in overturning that verdict,” Feigin said. “If the verdict is eventually reinstated… the attorney general probably has the authority to evaluate the items that are now being reviewed, such as the current execution process.” According to Feigin, the department’s argument before the Supreme Court was not so much in support of federal executions as it was in favor of the verdict being upheld by the courts if a sentence was given down by a jury.
“What we’re asking for today is the sound judgment of 12 of [Tsarnaev’s] peers—that he deserves capital punishment for his personal activities in murdering and maiming dozens of innocent people, and hundreds of innocent people with his brother.” This is a condensed version of the information.