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Washington state’s top court bans death penalty as biased, arbitrary

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Washington became the 20th U.S. state to abolish capital punishment when its Supreme Court struck down the death penalty on Thursday, saying in a unanimous decision that its application was arbitrary and racially biased.

“The death penalty, as administered in our state, fails to serve any legitimate enological goal,” the Washington Supreme Court said, adding it “is invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.”

After the court decision, Democratic Governor Jay Inslee tweeted, “Equal justice is a hallmark of democracy and assuring equal justice is the state’s responsibility. I’ve long been convinced that the death penalty in the state of Washington does not pass that test.”

Capital punishment has been on the decline in the United States for several years, but the Administration of Republican President Donald Trump has said it is considering expanding its use for some federal crimes.

In 2016, the Delaware Supreme Court abolished the death penalty.

Opponents have said there is no consistent method for prosecutors to decide in which cases they will seek capital punishment, arguing that such decisions are often made for political reasons.

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The Washington court analyzed use of the death penalty in the state over the decades and found that it was imposed in an “arbitrary and capricious manner” with racial bias built into the system.

Washington, which has executed five inmates since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, placed a moratorium on executions in 2014. Its eight prisoners on death row are now serving life sentences.

At the time, Inslee said that the majority of the state’s death penalty sentences were overturned and those people convicted of capital offenses were rarely executed, indicating questionable sentencing in many cases.

Death penalty supporters have argued that it needs to stay on the books to serve as punishment for those who commit the most heinous crimes.

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There were 23 executions in the United States in 2017, down from a peak of 98 in 1999, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which monitors U.S. capital punishment.

Robert Dunham, the center’s executive director, noted that Thursday’s decision by the Washington state court did not address whether the death penalty was immoral.

Instead, he said, it argued, “it has been impossible for Washington to administer it fairly.”

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Lisa Shumaker, Toni Reinhold

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi collapses and dies in court, state TV says

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Mohammed Morsi, the former Egyptian president who was ousted by the military in 2013, has died after collapsing in court, state TV said on Monday.

Egypt's public broadcaster said the 67-year-old former president was attending a session in his trial on espionage charges when he blacked out and then died. His body was taken to a hospital, it said.

Morsi, who hailed from Egypt's largest Islamist group, the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, was elected president in 2012 in the country's first free elections following the ouster the year before of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

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NBC SCOTUS reporter Pete Williams: ‘I don’t know what the Court wins’ in anti-gay Sweetcakes case ‘except time’

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NBC News' Pete Williams has won three national news Emmy awards. He has a reputation for offering very factual reports with little to no personal opinion. Williams for decades has primarily covered the U.S. Supreme Court and Justice Department.Monday morning on MSNBC Williams gave his report on the Supreme Court's order in the "Sweetcakes" case, involving an Oregon Christian couple who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The case is exceptionally more complicated than that – including alleged doxxing of the same-sex couple and the subsequent death threats they say they received.The U.S. Supreme Court set aside the $135,000 the anti-gay bakers, Melissa and Aaron Klein of Sweetcakes by Melissa, were ordered to pay to the same-sex couples they refused, and told the lower court to re-examine the case in light of the SCOTUS ruling in favor of Colorado anti-gay Christian baker Jack Phillips – which the court had originally made clear applied only to the Phillips case. The Court ruled Phillips was the victim of anti-religious animus by the state.Now, Pete Williams appears to be wondering about the Supreme Court's order, sending the case back to a lower court for review.Asked what today's decision means, Williams responds, "I'm not sure," then delivered his report."So today the Supreme Court sent this Oregon case back with instructions to reconsider in light of the Colorado case, but none of the infirmities that existed in the Colorado case are present in the Oregon case, so I'm not exactly sure what the Oregon courts are going to conclude from this," Williams told viewers."My guess is that if the state sues again, and it probably will, the Oregon courts will rule the same way and the case will come back here," meaning to the Supreme Court."I don't know what the [Supreme] Court gains here other than perhaps time, and letting other cases like this percolate up," Williams said.Exactly.It would appear the Supreme Court is attempting to lay the groundwork for special religious rights that would supersede the rights of LGBTQ people to not be discriminated against.It would appear Williams might agree.Watch: 

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Cops briefly suspended after video of them beating 16-year-old girl goes viral

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Officers in Lansing, Michigan, were placed on leave after video appeared on social media showing them striking a 16-year-old girl, reports WILX.

The officers approached a home where they suspected the girl and a 14-year-old boy -- wanted on probation violations, escape from custody, and runaway warrants -- were staying, police said.

The teens tried to flee, but were captured soon after. After the girl resisted being put into a police car, video shows an officer beat her on the leg.

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