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The politics of life and death

Dan Horn of The Cincinnati Enquirer analyzed the 6th Circuit court's death-penalty decisions since 2000 to show that 6th Circuit judges consistently voted along partisan lines, and that "a federal death-penalty appeal can be a game of chance." A review of every 6th circuit death penalty decision since 2000 found that judges appointed by Republican presidents vote to deny inmate appeals 85 percent of the time, and judges appointed by Democrats vote to grant at least some relief 75 percent of the time. That means life-and-death decisions often hinge on the luck of the draw: A panel with a liberal majority gives the inmate a far greater chance of avoiding execution than one with a conservative majority.

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