Veto Override Battle Ensues as Nebraska Governor Vetoes Repeal of Capital Punishment

In the 40 years since the United States Supreme Court ruled the death penalty is constitutional, no conservative state has repealed capital punishment. This is largely due to the GOP’s traditional “tough on crime” stance. However, opponents of capital punishment have been judiciously testing the resolve of death penalty states by making it difficult to obtain the mixture of narcotics and barbiturates used in administering lethal injection. Sam Tabar has read that most of the pharmaceuticals involved in lethal injection were imported from Europe. However, in recent years companies self-imposed embargoes of the substances to the United States to prevent its use in executing prisoners. The result has been to greatly increase the cost of executions. Coupled with that, public sentiment has been shifting away from capital punishment.

The Nebraska legislature then presented a bipartisan bill ending capital punishment in the state. That said, Governor Pete Ricketts still believes in the practice and issued a surprise veto this week. As a result, the legislature will now have to attempt an override of the governor’s veto. For his part, Gov. Ricketts is urging lawmakers to reconsider the merits of his argument. He points out that the death penalty is used quite sparingly in the state with only 10 inmates on death row. No one been executed in the state for the past 17 years. It is not clear at this time if legislators have the necessary votes needed to override the veto. The governor is also asking Nebraskans to prod their representatives to support him.