Three months after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over the constitutionality of Kansas' death penalty, justices want to hear them again, says the Kansas City Star. New justice Samuel Alito will take part; those who want to see Kansas' law kept in place think this could work in their favor. Some experts believe that the court is split and Alito would break the tie; the court ordered the same arguments presented and did not request additional briefs.
House Speaker Doug Mays said, “It increases the likelihood they will reinstate the death penalty.” In 2004 the state supreme court struck down the capital punishment law, ruling 4-3 that language concerning jury instructions was unfair to defendants. This left the fate of seven inmates sentenced to death uncertain. The instructions had to do with how juries weigh evidence. The law indicated that jurors should vote for capital punishment – rather than life imprisonment – in instances where the evidence for and against execution was equal. Alito replaced Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who was a swing vote in death penalty cases, sometimes joining the four more liberal members in voiding death sentences.