Rep. Ayanna Pressley Responds to Federal Reinstatement of the Death Penalty With Legislation of Her Own

Photo: Scott Eisen (Getty Images)

On the same day that Attorney General William Barr announced his nefarious plan to reinstate capital punishment, serial superheroine Rep. Ayanna Pressley declared her own opposition to it.

While Donald Trump has made no secret of his love affair with the death penalty, Pressley falls on the other end of the spectrum. In doing so, on Thursday, she introduced a bill that CBS News said will “reverse the action and abolish the death penalty altogether.”


From CBS News:

While short on details, the bill aims to “prohibit the imposition of the death penalty for any violation of Federal law, and for other purposes.” It’s the latest piece of legislation introduced by Pressley, a member of the so-called “squad” of progressive Democratic congresswomen, that directly counters the Trump administration.

“The same racist rhetoric coming from the occupant of the White House, who called for the execution of the #Exonerated5, is what led to this racist, vile policy,” Pressley tweeted, remarking on Mr. Trump’s past claims that the wrongly convicted “Central Park Five” should face the death penalty for their alleged crimes.

The bill explicitly states that “no person may be sentenced to death or put to death on or after the date of enactment of this act for any violation of federal law.” Of additional note, any individual sentenced to death for a federal crime prior to the bill’s enactment would be subject to being re-sentenced.

Despite the Trump Administration’s alarming reversal on the death penalty, 21 states have prohibited its use. On Twitter, Rep. Ilhan Omar decried it as a “heinous, totalitarian practice often used against innocent people” and “the very definition of ‘cruel and unusual punishment.’”


Since its introduction, the bill has drawn support from fellow Squad members Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as former GOP member Rep. Justin Amash and 11 other democrats.


Correction: 7/26/19, 3:22 p.m. ET: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated when Rep. Ayanna Pressley introduced legislation to abolish the death penalty. She announced her bill the same day that Attorney General William Barr announced that the Department of Justice was reinstating the federal death penalty. The story has been updated.

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Jay Connor

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.