July 14, 2020

Daniel Lewis Lee Executed: First Federal Execution in 17 Years


July 14, 2020

CONTACT: Nancy Rodriguez media@acslaw.org

Washington, D.C.  – American Constitution Society President Russ Feingold condemned the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to rush the execution of Daniel Lewis Lee this morning:

“Sadly, for the second time in less than a week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to closely examine claims that the single-drug execution protocol is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual, allowing the federal government to rush headlong to resume federal executions. It took mere hours for the federal government to take advantage of that opportunity to execute Mr. Lee. As Justice Sotomayor observed in her dissent, ‘the Court accepts the Government’s artificial claim of urgency to truncate ordinary procedures of judicial review. This sets a dangerous precedent.’

“This is a national tragedy and it doesn’t have to be this way. Sentencing someone to death is a choice, a conscious decision to end someone’s life in the government’s name. There are other options for punishment available to prosecutors and the courts.

“Significant constitutional concerns abound in the administration of the death penalty, including ineffective assistance of counsel, junk science, lack of appellate review, and other procedural deficiencies that taint the judicial process for those facing a death sentence. The death penalty is also one of the more tragic and obvious ways the racism inherent in our criminal legal system rears its ugly head. It is not the rule of law in action; it is direct and intentional state-sponsored racism. The Administration’s cynical decision to resume federal executions by choosing white men to kill first does not change this inherently racist system.

“In recent years, the American public has come to recognize the death penalty for what it is: a cruel, immoral and racist undertaking. It is past time for our national government to stop violating the Constitution and join the majority of Americans in turning against the death penalty once and for all.”



ACS believes that the Constitution is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” We interpret the Constitution based on its text and against the backdrop of history and lived experience. Through a diverse nationwide network of progressive lawyers, law students, judges, scholars, and many others, we work to uphold the Constitution in the 21st Century by ensuring that law is a force for protecting our democracy and the public interest and for improving people’s lives. For more information, visit us at www.acslaw.org or on Twitter @acslaw.