Supreme Court Reinstates Death Sentence for Boston Marathon Bomber

( Last Friday, the US Supreme Court reinstated the death sentence for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, overturning a 2020 federal appeals court ruling.

In a 6-3 decision, the conservatives on the court sided with the US Justice Department’s challenge to the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals 2020 decision which found that Tsarnaev’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial was violated and that the judge in the case wrongly excluded evidence about a separate crime.

Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas asserted that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev committed “heinous crimes” for which he was guaranteed the right to receive a fair trial under the Sixth Amendment, and “he received one.”

All three liberal justices on the Court dissented.

Writing for the liberal justices, outgoing Justice Stephen Breyer sided with the 1st Circuit ruling that the 2011 triple murder linked to older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev was improperly excluded from Dzhokhar’s trial.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s attorneys had argued that he played only a secondary role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. They alleged that his now-dead brother, whom they describe as “an authority figure” with “violent Islamic extremist beliefs” was the one calling the shots. Therefore, the triple murder committed by his brother would have been relevant in Dzhokhar’s trial.

The Court also found that US District Judge George O’Toole, who presided over the initial trial, did not violate Tsarnaev’s right to an impartial jury when he failed to screen potential jurors for possible bias from the pervasive news coverage that followed the bombing.

During his campaign for president, Joe Biden had promised to work with Congress to pass legislation eliminating the death penalty in federal convictions, offering instead life sentences without the possibility for parole.

Despite Biden’s opposition to the death penalty, the Biden Department of Justice last year decided to proceed with the appeal of the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals 2020 decision that was initially filed by the Trump administration.