Mar 4, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court reinstates death sentence for Boston Marathon bomber

Two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.
Two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday reinstated the death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Driving the news: The 6-3 decision, with the court's liberal members dissenting, reversed a federal appeals court ruling that had voided the death penalty in the case.

  • "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev committed heinous crimes," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, according to court filings. "The Sixth Amendment nonetheless guaranteed him a fair trial before an impartial jury. He received one."
  • Tsarnaev, who has been serving a life sentence, will remain on death row at Colorado's supermax prison, NBC News reports.

Catch up quick: The decision comes after the Department of Justice last year urged the Supreme Court to reinstate the death penalty for Tsarnaev for his role in the bombing that killed three people and wounded hundreds of others.

  • A federal appeals court in 2020 dismissed Tsarnaev's death sentence, arguing that the judge in his 2015 trial "did not meet the standard" of fairness and failed to guarantee a fair jury due to extensive media coverage.
  • The DOJ argued that the appeals court "improperly vacated the capital sentences recommended by the jury in one of the most important terrorism prosecutions in our Nation’s history."

The big picture: Attorney General Merrick Garland had ordered a moratorium on federal executions, but the Biden Justice Department defended the death sentence for Tsarnaev.

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