The Department of Justice has asked the Supreme Court to reinstate the death penalty for convicted Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, despite President Joe Biden’s previous claims that he is against capital punishment.
The department filed a 48-page brief late Monday to argue that Tsarnaev ― who was convicted in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that left three people dead and hundreds more injured ― had his death sentence wrongly overturned by a lower court last year.
“The jury carefully considered each of respondent’s crimes and determined that capital punishment was warranted for the horrors that he personally inflicted,” acting Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar said in the brief, Reuters reported Tuesday.
Lawyers for Tsarnaev, 27, have previously argued that their client was less responsible for the attack than his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who they said was the mastermind behind setting off two bombs at the marathon finish line. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a gunfight with police days after the bombing.
The new DOJ filing to the Supreme Court undermines what Biden has publicly said about ending the death penalty. Experts like David Bruck, a veteran death penalty defense lawyer, told HuffPost in January that Biden’s administration should be focused on directing the Justice Department to stop seeking and defending death sentences in federal cases.
“The new administration should not be working to fill up the death row cells that have been emptied by this execution spree,” Bruck said at the time. “They should stop the machinery of death within the Justice Department.”
White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said Tuesday that the Justice Department “has independence regarding such decisions” about federal death penalty cases, but reiterated Biden’s supposed opposition to capital punishment.
“President Biden has made clear that he has deep concerns about whether capital punishment is consistent with the values that are fundamental to our sense of justice and fairness,” Bates said in a statement to HuffPost.
“The President believes the Department should return to its prior practice, and not carry out executions,” he added.