U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the death sentence for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Justice Department lawyers said Tsarnaev's case is “one of the most important terrorism prosecutions in our nation’s history” in court documents filed this week. They argue that a lower court was wrong when it threw out the 27-year-old's death sentence last year over concerns about the jury selection process.
The solicitor general’s office -- which represents the administration before the high court -- said the jury “carefully considered each of respondent’s crimes and determined that capital punishment was warranted for the horrors that [Tsarnaev] personally inflicted.”
Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen who was born in Kyrgyzstan, was convicted in 2015 of killing three people and injuring hundreds of others during the 2013 Boston Marathon. Tsarnaev's brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died in a gun battle with police a few days after the bombings.
The defense acknowledged that the brothers carried out the attack but sought to portray Tamerlan as the radicalized mastermind and Dzhokhar as the impressionable younger brother.
Prosecutors said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was just as culpable in the attack, which the perpetrators said was meant to punish the United States for its wars in Muslim countries.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed in March to hear the appeal initially launched under former President Donald Trump's administration. Legal analysts expect the case will be heard in the autumn.
The verdict could be controversial for Biden, who has expressed his opposition to capital punishment.
White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said that the Justice Department “has independence” regarding decisions on death penalty appeals, according to the Associated Press. But Bates said the president “believes the department should return to its prior practice, and not carry out executions.”