Police arrested more than a dozen death penalty protesters outside the Supreme Court Tuesday.
The Abolitionist Action Committee organizes protesters to engage in civil disobedience every five years on Jan. 17, marking the date of the first execution after the Supreme Court allowed the death penalty to resume in 1977. This year is the 40th anniversary of Gary Gilmore's execution by firing squad in Utah. Gilmore, who shot and killed two people reportedly without a motive, volunteered for the death penalty.
The protesters' arrests outside the court come as the death penalty is resurfacing as a contentious issue at the Supreme Court. A split decision from the Supreme Court last month allowed the execution of an Alabama man to proceed after multiple stays. Justice Stephen Breyer, who favored granting a stay to block the Alabama man's execution, then delivered a public call for the high court to "reconsider the constitutionality of the death penalty" in a dissent from the court's inaction on a death penalty case from Florida.
The high court has heard oral arguments in a death penalty case this term in Moore v. Texas, in which the justices will look to answer whether the execution of an inmate after an elongated period of incarceration violates the Eighth Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
Tuesday's arrests of anti-death penalty protesters also happened as the nation's capital braces for the arrival of thousands of protesters unhappy with President-elect Trump's looming inauguration. Protesters have made plans to disrupt the inauguration and spoil several inaugural balls beginning on Thursday.