The Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the man convicted of killing four people in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. 

In a 6-3 decision, with Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor dissenting, the court found that Tsarnaev had received a fair trial in 2015 and had been justly sentenced to death. 

While the commonwealth of Massachusetts does not have the death penalty, Tsarnaev was charged and convicted of 30 federal crimes. The issue of his guilt was not discussed by the Supreme Court. 

Tsarnaev’s earlier death sentence was overturned by a three-judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals in July 2020. The panel unanimously found that he had not received a fair trial.

In May 2021, the Supreme Court agreed to reconsider the death sentence, and in June, the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to sentence Tsarnaev to death. The Biden administration’s push to execute Tsarnaev came weeks before Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a moratorium on federal executions.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case on Oct. 13. 

In 2015, Tsarnaev was convicted on four murder charges and sentenced to death for orchestrating the bombing of the 2013 Boston Marathon with his brother, Tamerlan. The bombing killed three and injured hundreds. 

During their ensuing run from police, the two brothers shot and killed one police officer, and another police officer later died from injuries sustained in a shootout. Tamerlan died after being run over by an SUV driven by Dzhokhar, while he was fleeing police.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken into federal custody shortly after killing his brother. 

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The Archdiocese of Boston told CNA that they were opting to “celebrate the heroes of those days in April 2013,” as well as “honor the memory of Martin Richard, Krystle Marie Campbell, Lü Lingzi, Sean A. Collier and Dennis Simmonds.”

“We pray for the continued healing of hundreds who suffered devastating injuries,” said the archdiocese. “We renew our commitment to root out violence and evil in our society by way of solidarity with Jesus’ call to love one another.”

While the Obama, Trump, and now Biden administrations have now pushed to execute Tsarnaev, the Archdiocese of Boston has repeatedly called for his sentence to be commuted to life without the possibility of parole. 

“The pain and suffering caused to the victims of the bombing and to their loved ones is as clear and real today as it was nearly eight years ago,” the archdiocese told CNA in May 2021. 

“As we have previously stated, Catholic teaching does not support the taking of life as a means of achieving justice.”