Breyer Again Seeks High Court Death Penalty Review

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Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer renewed his call yesterday for the Supreme Court to examine whether the death penalty is being unconstitutionally applied across the U.S., but the court rejected several opportunities to do that, the Washington Post reports. The court said it would not review the plea of Romell Broom, an Ohio inmate who was being prepared for lethal injection in 2009 when the attempt was stopped after authorities could not properly get a needle into his vein to administer the drugs. Ohio wants a second chance to carry out the execution. The court also passed on another review of the conviction of Henry Sireci, who has spent 40 years on Florida’s death row.

“Forty years is more time than an average person could expect to live his entire life when America constitutionally forbade the infliction of cruel and unusual punishments,” Breyer said in response to his colleagues’ decision by his colleagues not to hear Sireci’s case. “The time has come for this court to reconsider the constitutionality of the death penalty.” He said, “As I and other justices have previously pointed out, individuals who are executed are not the ‘worst of the worst,’ but, rather, are individuals chosen at random, on the basis, perhaps of geography, perhaps of the views of individual prosecutors, or still worse on the basis of race.”


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