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Toward A True Unanimity Requirement in Federal Death Penalty Cases

Last November, I noted the introduction of H.R. 4493 by Pennsylvania Congressmen Marino and Barletta.  This bill would eliminate the nonsensical "single-juror veto" system in the penalty phase of federal capital cases, replacing it with a true unanimity requirement where the jury must be unanimous one way or the other, as in the guilt phase.

On Wednesday, Senators Toomey, Cotton, Cornyn, and Cruz introduced a parallel bill in the Senate, S. 2389.

Death Penalty Focus is predictably unhappy.  They quote a capital defense lawyer warning in grave tones, "Obviously, this bill would invite a lot of constitutional scrutiny."

Seriously?  California has had this law since 1978.  That's eight years of review by the California Supreme Court under the reign of the notorious Rose Bird followed by over 30 years of scrutiny by the federal Ninth Circuit.  If two of the most vehemently anti-death-penalty courts in American history haven't found a constitutional problem with this law in four decades, doesn't that indicate it is quite solid?

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