Republican Stance on Death Penalty Appears to Be Shifting

Nebraska’s Republican-dominated Legislature is making a concerted push to do away with the state’s death penalty, the latest sign of cracks in conservatives’ once-bedrock support for capital punishment.

When lawmakers voted 30-13 vote to repeal the state’s death penalty last week, Republicans delivered 17 of the votes in favor of the measure, outnumbering the 13 votes Republicans cast against it, according to The Wall Street Journal.

GOP Gov. Pete Ricketts has vowed to veto the bill. But the recent vote shows how the politics around the death penalty are shifting amid a spate of executions that had problems, shortages of drugs needed to carry out lethal injections, and fears that the system ensnares people who aren’t guilty.

Some Nebraska conservatives called the death penalty unfair to victims’ families, which often have to wait for years to see a punishment carried out. Others called it antithetical to their antiabortion beliefs, while others mentioned the risk of wrongly executing the innocent.