Aghast over former President Donald Trump’s decision to authorize a series of last-minute federal executions before departing the White House, progressives are starting to exert pressure on President Joe Biden to get specific about his timeline and planned approach to ending capital punishment.
The argument, shared widely among left-aligned Democrats in Congress and reform advocates, is rooted in the belief that being antithetical to Trump on the death penalty is a crucial first step to eradicating a racially biased criminal justice system. As Biden’s first 100 days in office begin to take shape with no political barriers, many believe the newly elected president has a moral imperative to actively help dismantle racist systems in government early on. And they are not expected to ease up as the administration works through its preliminary priorities.
“There’s all kinds of room for what I’ll call ‘political jujitsu’ that’s going to happen on the part of the Biden administration that is… going to seek to slow down the progressive movement,” said Stacey Walker, a supervisor in Linn County, Iowa, and appointee to the criminal justice “unity task force” developed between Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during the 2020 presidential election.