The Supreme Court is considering reinstating the death penalty for Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after a federal appeals court vacated it.

Despite Attorney General Merrick Garland’s decision to vacate federal executions, President Joe Biden will ask the justices to reverse the “erroneous” decision as he hopes to have Tsarnaev’s death sentence reinstated. 

Lawyers for Tsarnaev argue that even if the high court reinstated his death sentence issues with the jury and the evidence presented during Tsarnaev’s trial would again lead to the death sentence being vacated. 

Tsarnaev was convicted of joining his older brother Tamerlan in planting two homemade pressure-cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, that killed three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and injured hundreds more in what the Supreme Court described as “one of the worst domestic terrorist attacks since the 9/11 atrocities.”

Tamerlan, 26, died days later following a gun battle with police, and Dzhokhar, then 19, was found hours later hiding in a boat parked in a backyard.

Tsarnaev was convicted on 30 counts and recommended the death penalty for six of them, including using weapons of mass destruction that killed people. 

The First Circuit of Appeals ruled unanimously in July 2020 that the trial judge had failed to allow enough questioning for potential jurors about how closely they followed the news coverage following the bombing, thus overturning Tsarnaev’s death sentence.   

In her ruling, Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson wrote that a "core promise of our criminal justice system is that even the very worst among us deserves to be fairly tried and lawfully punished." The ruling was later criticized by then-President Donald Trump, who called the ruling "ridiculous" as his administration carried out 13 executions in his final seven months in office. 

Acting Solicitor General Brain Fletcher wrote in a brief to the court that the court's "fair and careful management" resulted in an "impartial jury that delivered a nuanced verdict recommending capital punishment only for the murders that respondent personally committed.”

The court also said the judge should have allowed Tsarnaev’s lawyers to bring up a triple-killing committed by his brother Tamerlan, to demonstrate Tsarnaev was easily manipulated by his brother whom they called the mastermind, therefore making Tsarnaev less responsible for the bombings. 

If the high court reinstates Tsarnaev’s death sentence, he will remain on death row at Colorado’s supermax prison. If the Supreme Court upholds the Circuit court’s ruling, Tsarnaev will receive life in prison.

"Make no mistake: Dzhokhar will spend his remaining days locked up in prison, with the only matter remaining being whether he will die by execution," JudgeThompson wrote.