taking the case
The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether to reinstate the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
The court on Monday agreed to review a federal appeals court's decision that overturned Tsarnaev's death sentence, CNN reports. The Supreme Court had been asked to take on the case by former President Donald Trump's administration.
The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Tsarnaev's death sentence in 2020, saying that the judge in his case didn't sufficiently screen jurors for possible biases, The Associated Press reported. "But make no mistake: Dzhokhar will spend his remaining days locked up in prison, with the only matter remaining being whether he will die by execution," Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson said at the time.
But CNN notes that even if the Supreme Court were to reverse the lower court's decision, it's still unclear whether Tsarnaev "would actually be put to death given the Biden administration's opposition to the federal death penalty." The case presents Biden "with an early test of his opposition to capital punishment," The Associated Press wrote, and MSNBC legal analyst Joyce Alene argued Biden's DOJ could take a "bold step" by rejecting "the death penalty in all cases."
Retired federal judge Nancy Gertner also argued to The New York Times that "given that Mr. Tsarnaev will never leave prison," the Biden administration "should consider whether continuing to pursue a death sentence for him is unnecessarily traumatizing for the victims' families and the City of Boston."
CNN Supreme Court analyst Steve Vladeck said, though, that the DOJ wants the Supreme Court to "clarify" the issue of "just how carefully district courts in capital cases have to screen prospective jurors," even "if it has no intention of carrying out a potential death sentence."