Obama May Soon Face Decisions on Death Penalty

Cases might alter president's support for narrow use of executions
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2009 12:50 PM CDT
President Barack Obama discusses the importance of fatherhood during an event in the East Room of the White House, Friday, June 19, 2009.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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(Newser) – As if reviving the economy, reforming health care, taming North Korea, and forging relations with Iran weren’t challenges enough, President Obama may soon have to deal with the death penalty. Within months, the cases of six federal death-row inmates, all black and all convicted of capital murder, could land on his desk. He’s on record pressing for death penalty reforms, but also supporting the death penalty for particularly heinous crimes, Politico reports.

AG Eric Holder has authorized prosecutors to seek the death penalty for at least 4 defendants since January. But one capital punishment opponent says Obama might change his mind when he’s tasked with deciding a man’s fate, and another notes that crime is a lower priority since the crime rate has dropped, making the death penalty less of a hot-button issue. Now, “the economy is Number 1, 2, and 3.”