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Supreme Court orders death penalty case reargued to break tie

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] said Friday that it will rehear oral arguments [order text, PDF] for death penalty case Kansas v. Marsh [Duke Law backgrounder; merit briefs] so that Justice Samuel Alito can break a tie in the deadlocked court. The Kansas death penalty law requires that Kansas juries impose the death penalty rather than life in prison if the evidence for and against the death penalty is equal. The Kansas Supreme Court struck down the law [decision text], removing six convicts from death row. When argued [JURIST report] last December, the justices on the court appeared unsympathetic to arguments by counsel for Marsh, with Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia questioning what the defendant wanted.

Kansas v. Marsh is the second case the Supreme Court has needed to rehear in order to break a tie since former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor retired in January. Garcetti v. Ceballos [Duke Law backgrounder; merit briefs], re-argued [JURIST report] earlier this week, involves a question of whether free speech rights extend to government employees. AP has more.

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