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Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The Department of Justice on Monday night asked the Supreme Court to reinstate the death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Why it matters: Biden is the first sitting president to publicly oppose the death penalty and has said he wants to end its use.

  • The Biden administration's action on the appeal to the Supreme Court, which was launched following a request from former President Trump last year, was highly anticipated.
  • White House spokesperson Andrew Bates referred Axios to the DOJ "which has independence regarding such decisions."
  • "Prior to the Trump administration, from 2003 until July 2020, not a single execution was carried out by the Department of Justice," Bates said. "The President believes the Department should return to its prior practice, and not carry out executions."

The big picture: Tsarnaev and his brother killed three people and wounded hundreds of others after planting bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013.

  • He's serving a life sentence after an appeals court last year dismissed his death sentence, finding that the judge in his 2015 trial failed to guarantee a fair jury due to extensive media coverage.
  • But the DOJ stated in a 48-page brief Monday 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," arguing that the Supreme Court "should reverse the decision ... and put this case back on track toward a just conclusion."
"The jury carefully considered each of respondent's crimes and determined that capital punishment was warranted for the horrors that he personally inflicted — setting down a shrapnel bomb in a crowd and detonating it, killing a child and a promising young student, and consigning several others to a lifetime of unimaginable suffering."
— Excerpt from the DOJ's brief

Of note: White House press secretary Jen Psaki wouldn't be drawn on how Biden or his administration would approach the case after the Supreme Court agreed last March to consider reinstating the death penalty for Tsarnaev.

  • "He has grave concerns about whether capital punishment as currently implemented is consistent with the values that are fundamental to our sense of justice and fairness," Psaki said at the time, per AP.
  • "He has also expressed his horror at the events of that day and Tsarnaev’s actions."

This post has been updated with comment from a White House spokesperson.

Go deeper

DOJ seeks emergency order to temporarily block Texas abortion law

Pro-Abortion rights protesters march outside the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 1 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Sergio Flores For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Department of Justice submitted an emergency motion late Tuesday seeking a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction on Texas' ban on abortions after six weeks.

Why it matters: The action marks an escalation by the Biden administration in its challenge on the constitutionality of the GOP-led state's restrictive new law, after the DOJ filed a lawsuit last week following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, in a 5-4 vote, to allow the ban to remain in place.

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Smaller than expected "Justice for J6" rally met with large police presence

Police officers watch as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2021. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A few hundred demonstrators were met by a heavy law enforcement presence on Saturday at the "Justice for J6" rally outside the fenced-off U.S. Capitol, AP reports.

The latest: Four people were arrested at the rally, including one person with a gun, one with a knife and two with outstanding warrants, per the U.S. Capitol Police.