When the US Supreme Court back in March decided to grant cert on the federal government’s appeal of the First Circuit’s reversal of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death sentence, a smart bet would have been that a majority of Justices were inclined to reinstate that death sentence. Such a bet looks even smarter after today’s Supreme Court argument where the Justices questions and comments revealed the predictable ideological split and strongly suggested that a majority of Justices will be voting to reinstate Tsarnaev’s death sentence.
The headlines from various press and blog coverage reports on most of the essentials:
From Crime & Consequences, “SCOTUS Appears Poised to Re-Instate Death Penalty for Boston Marathon Bomber“
Interestingly, the second of the two questions presented in the case captured most of the Justices’ attention as they explored “Whether the district court committed reversible error at the penalty phase of respondent’s trial by excluding evidence that respondent’s older brother was allegedly involved in different crimes two years before the offenses for which respondent was convicted.” Some of the questioning on this issue suggested that the Court might have to, or might want to, say something significant about the evidentiary rules that attend the penalty phase of a capital trial. If they do speak to this issue broadly, the significance of the Tsarnaev case could extend beyond this defendant’s awful crimes and ultimate punishment.