Protestors block the path of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers as they attempt to make an arrest in Charlotte, North Carolina on June 2. Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled on Friday to give two black men on death row the chance to downgrade their sentences by proving that racism played an outsized role during court deliberations.

The big picture: The ruling comes amid nationwide protests against how police — and the criminal justice system as a whole — treat black people in the U.S., in the wake of George Floyd's killing in Minneapolis.

Details: The ruling could apply to many defendants who previously filed claims to have their sentences downgraded to life in prison without parole under the Racial Justice Act, for which the court found the 2013 repeal of to be unconstitutional.

  • The court ruled in favor of Rayford Lewis Burke and Andrew Darrin Ramseur on Friday. An all-white jury sentenced Ramseur to death in 2010 for two counts of first-degree murder. Burke was convicted in 1993 with one count of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.

What they're saying: “Today’s ruling is an important step forward in North Carolina’s ability to create a more fair and equal justice system,” Henderson Hill, senior staff attorney on the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project said in a statement.

  • “The evidence our clients presented of racial bias was clear and powerful. Today, the court has affirmed that we cannot and will not put it back in the box. When RJA passed in 2009, North Carolina took the first step and examined a shameful truth about our criminal legal system. Today, the court has confirmed we will take the next step, bear witness to that racism, and do something to rectify the tremendous harm it has caused," Hill said.

Go deeper: America's dwindling executions

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Top business leaders urge White House to develop mandatory mask guidelines

A man walks past a Ramen restaurant in Los Angeles, California on July 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The heads of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, National Retail Federation and other top business organizations wrote an open letter on Thursday urging the White House coronavirus task force to work with governors to make face coverings mandatory in all public spaces.

Driving the news: An analysis led by Goldman Sachs' chief economist found that a national mandate requiring face coverings would "could potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from GDP," the Washington Post reports.

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Lots of jobs, lots of questions

America added 4.8 million jobs in June, easily exceeding economist expectations, while the unemployment rate fell from 13.3% to 11.1%. But the jobs picture remains very murky, particularly as some states pause or roll back economy reopenings.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the jobs picture right now and where it's headed, with The Washington Post's Catherine Rampell.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 10,763,604 — Total deaths: 517,667 — Total recoveries — 5,522,094Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 2,715,124 — Total deaths: 128,439 — Total recoveries: 729,994 — Total tested: 32,827,359Map.
  3. Public health: What we know about the immune response to coronavirus and what it means for a vaccine.
  4. Politics: Herman Cain hospitalized for COVID-19 after attending Trump Tulsa rally — Biden downplays jobs number, rebukes Trump for ignoring health crisis.
  5. States: Florida reports more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases — 5 states saw 27% spike in heart-related deaths in first 3 months of coronavirus pandemic.