Attorney General Garland Orders “Pause” to Federal Executions

We all know that progressives are pushing Joe Biden to end the death penalty. So it’s not a huge surprise that earlier this week Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo to the DOJ that puts all executions on “pause” while the issue is studied.

However, if you read the memo, it’s really a mixed bag. (Isn’t that just like a lawyer?) Garland says the DOJ will not be carrying out any death sentences, but it doesn’t say that the DOJ will stop seeking the death penalty in cases where the DOJ deems it appropriate to do so.

Accordingly, if you’re hoping the feds were going to just eliminate the death penalty, you’re going to come away disappointed. It’s sort of muddled. In the memo, Garland also talks about using a single drug for lethal injections rather than the three drug method, and how that is going to be reviewed. If the DOJ is worried about whether the one drug method is effective, it doesn’t sound like it’s going to do away with the death penalty entirely, does it? Why study it if you’re going to get rid of the whole process?

Cutting against that, Garland talks about “arbitrariness of capital punishment” and its “disparate impact on people of color,” which sort of makes it sound like he’s against the whole idea of capital punishment.

But then going the other way (again) Garland is saying the memo has “no effect” on the DOJ pushing for the death penalty on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the convicted Boston Marathon bomber.

So, do we all have that clear? The Attorney General isn’t sure if the current drug used for lethal injections is a good idea, and he’s going to have it reviewed. However, he also thinks the death penalty is applied in an arbitrary manner and might be kind of racist. Nevertheless, Garland is pushing for the death penalty for Tsarnaev. But even if Tsarnaev is sentenced to death, the execution might not actually happen since we’re on a “pause”.

9 thoughts on “Attorney General Garland Orders “Pause” to Federal Executions

  1. Doug T

    Now Jesus don’t like killin’
    No matter what the reason’s for,
    And your flag decal won’t get you
    Into Heaven any more.

  2. Barry

    Seems a simple rule would be that for a death penalty to be lawful, all DNA evidence in the case, if applicable, has to be tested to the fullest extent possible.

    Otherwise, it’s off the table.

    These cases where people are in jail for 20 years only to be cleared by DNA that’s has been sitting in the evidence room for decades should be a pox on all of us.

    1. Bryan Caskey Post author

      My law partner used to be a prosecutor in Texas. His rule was they wouldn’t seek the death penalty unless they were 100% sure the defendant was guilty of the actual crime.

      He’s against the death penalty.

  3. bud

    Seems like Garland is overthinking this. I could list a dozen reasons why we should get rid of the death penalty but one should be sufficient. The death penalty serves as the greatest tool for promoting killing. What depraved mind could resist the temptation for garnering attention afforded by a high profile death penalty case? It’s a sort of negative deterrent. Bottom line: the death penalty almost certainly INCREASES the number of murders.

  4. Brad Warthen

    Bryan, I’m not sure it’s as contradictory as you see it. For instance, a person who hasn’t made a final determination on the death penalty could still see a need to study the method. For instance, if you think it might be possible to keep that penalty as long as it isn’t cruel and unusual, you might want to obsess about the method.

    Of course, what I just said sounds a bit crazy to me, too, but then I’m not a, you know, lawyer.

    I just don’t hold with the penalty at all. I understand how some people, less absolutist than I, might be torn and say, “I’m against it except in this case.” Which is how Tsarnaev comes in…

  5. Pat

    I would like to see the death penalty gone for multiple reasons. At the very least, it’s terrible to put the responsibility to carry out the execution on anyone.


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