Boston Marathon Bomber Appeal Is Early Biden Death-Penalty Test

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Professor Deborah Denno shared her expert with Bloomberg Law on the death-penalty and President-elect Biden’s pledge to stop federal executions.

President-elect Joe Biden says he’s against the death penalty now. A case involving the surviving Boston Marathon bomber waiting for him on Day One will test if he means it.

The Justice Department under President Donald Trump is petitioning the Supreme Court to reinstate the death sentences of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who won an appeals court ruling last year. The high court will next consider whether to grant review of the government’s appeal in private conference on Friday, after not acting on the petition when it was first up for consideration last week.

Fordham law school professor Deborah Denno, whose scholarship has been cited in Supreme Court death penalty cases, said she thinks that Biden’s Justice Department will reverse course and withdraw the petition.

The justices have frowned upon changes in government positions, but it’s not unusual when a new administration comes in.

“I think Biden will fulfill his promise and that Lisa Montgomery’s execution will cement his pledge all the more,” Denno said, referring to the Trump administration’s lethal injection this week of a woman who argued she was incompetent to be executed.

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