January 15, 2021

Killing of Corey Johnson, Dustin Higgs Cements Administration’s Cruel, Deadly and Racist Legacy

Contact: Nancy Rodriguez, media@acslaw.org

Washington, D.C.– American Constitution Society President Russ Feingold released the following statement in response to the federal government’s execution of Corey Johnson last night and the scheduled execution of Dustin Higgs today.

“In the closing days of his presidency, Donald Trump is further cementing his cruel, deadly, and racist legacy with last night’s execution of Corey Johnson and today's scheduled execution of Dustin Higgs.

With the killing of these two Black men—the fifth and sixth Black men to be executed since President Trump lost re-election in November—the president, along with his former Attorney General William Barr, have the dubious distinction of executing the most civilians of any administration in modern history. In six short months, Trump will have been responsible for the killing of thirteen people, including seven Black men, the only Native American on federal death row, and the only woman on federal death row.

Corey Johnson’s intellectual disabilities made his execution unconstitutional, and prosecutors readily admit that Dustin Higgs did not kill the women for whose death he is scheduled to be executed. Beyond the particular injustices in their cases and in the cases of many others executed by President Trump, this administration’s frenzied rush to kill as many people as possible on its way out the door highlights the capriciousness and moral bankruptcy of this country’s death penalty regimes.

As I wrote in a recent blog and John Blume and Brendan Van Winkle outlined in their recent article, upon taking office, President Biden will have the power to immediately begin to dismantle the arbitrary and racist system that sentences some people to die but not others, that executes some people on death row while sparing others. There can be no delay. It is time to put a stop to these cruelties committed in our and our country’s name.”


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