Death Penalty

Will capital punishment survive new challenges?


In a bid to stem the nation’s opioid epidemic, President Trump this year called for applying the death penalty in major drug cases. But death penalty opponents question the constitutionality of such a strategy and say it would not be an effective way to fight illegal drug use. While public backing of capital punishment remains far below levels of two decades ago, polls show rising support for it. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court heard arguments in October against executing an Alabama inmate who says he no longer remembers his crime, but the court has declined recently to hear other challenges to capital punishment. Death penalty opponents fear the court will continue to turn down such cases now that conservative justice Brett Kavanaugh has joined the court. Pharmaceutical companies, meanwhile, are increasingly taking legal action to prevent use of their drugs in lethal injections, forcing states to use other drugs that death penalty opponents say make botched executions more likely.

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