death penalty

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday issued the last of its opinions for this term — on the death penalty, anti-pollution regulations and the power of independent commissions to draw congressional and state legislative districts. In addition, the court issued a set of orders that set up cases to be heard next term on affirmative action and abortion.

Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 opinion, says the sedative used in Oklahoma's lethal injection cocktail does not violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Here's the background to the case, in the words of SCOTUSblog:

Nebraska's Legislature voted Wednesday to abolish the death penalty, overturning Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto. The state's unicameral legislature overwhelmingly approved the measure in a series of three previous votes.

The repeal comes as other states have experienced complications with new lethal-injection cocktails. But Americans overall still support the practice.

Support for the death penalty has slowly fallen over the past couple of decades, from a high of 80 percent in favor in the mid-1990s to just over 60 percent currently, according to Gallup.

Updated at 5:52 p.m. ET

Lawmakers in Nebraska overrode Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto of their vote to repeal the death penalty, making it the first Republican-controlled state in the U.S. to repeal the death penalty since North Dakota in 1973. The vote was 30-19.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts vetoed legislation passed last week that repealed the state's death penalty.

"Please sustain my veto. Please stand with the citizens of Nebraska and law enforcement for public safety," he said, flanked by law enforcement personnel, murder victims' family members and state lawmakers who support capital punishment.

Lawmakers in Nebraska have given final approval to a measure that would abolish the death penalty with enough votes to override a threatened veto from Gov. Pete Ricketts.

The vote was 32-15. Conservative Nebraska has a unicameral Legislature and all bills go through three votes. In the previous round, the vote was 30-16; in the first, it was 30-13. It would take 30 votes to override a veto from Ricketts, a Republican. If that happens, Nebraska will become the first Republican-controlled state in the U.S. to repeal the death penalty since North Dakota in 1973.

Buzzfeed updates their recent story about Oklahoma misleading the U.S. Supreme Court in a lethal injection case. Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office admits it was an “inadvertent citation error.”

Buzzfeed reports that the Oklahoma attorney general’s office misrepresented the facts behind a key argument about the availability of certain execution drugs in its filings at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The death penalty is legal in more than 30 states, but the long-controversial practice has come under renewed scrutiny after a series of botched executions in several states last year.

Opponents of capital punishment argue that the death penalty undermines the fair administration of justice, as wealth, geography, race and quality of legal representation all come into play, with uneven results.

Utah's Senate has approved a measure that would allow a firing squad to carry out the death penalty if the drug to carry out lethal injections is unavailable.

The vote was 18-10, and it's unclear if Republican Gov. Gary Herbert will sign the measure, which would make Utah the only state in the nation to allow firing squads, into law. The state abandoned the practice a little more than a decade ago.