Merrick Garland faces first death penalty test in Boston Marathon bomber case

Attorney General Merrick Garland faces his first test on federal executions as the Supreme Court considers reinstating a death sentence for the Boston Marathon bomber.

The court since October has been mulling a Trump-era federal appeal to rehear a death penalty case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who, along with his brother, killed three people and injured more than 200 others at the 2013 Boston Marathon. When then-Attorney General William Barr took the case to the high court, he vowed to do “whatever’s necessary” to see Tsarnaev executed.

But the Biden administration has displayed a contrary attitude on the issue. Biden promised to end the federal death penalty in 2019 after the Trump Justice Department resumed executions. Garland said during his confirmation hearings that he would not oppose a moratorium, adding that he had concerns about the death penalty’s application under former President Donald Trump.

Still, Garland said, he did not regret securing a death sentence for Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people in the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing, leaving open the question of whether he will continue supporting the Tsarnaev appeal.

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