Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has evaded whether the former secretary of state supports giving the death penalty to Dylann Roof, the man suspected of murdering nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina last summer.
Clinton’s reticence was first reported by The Huffington Post, which pestered her campaign for a week about whether it agreed with the Department of Justice’s decision to pursue a death sentence for Roof.
HuffPo encountered only silence and one off-the-record email that still didn’t answer the question, despite repeated email inquiries on the topic.
Clinton has attempted to take a nuanced position on the death penalty while on the campaign trail. During a campaign appearance in New Hampshire in October 2015, Clinton said the death penalty’s use should be “very limited and rare,” but that “certain egregious cases” still called for it. Clinton said in March she would “breathe a sigh of relief” if the Supreme Court abolished the death penalty nationwide, or states chose to do it themselves.
But if Roof’s case isn’t egregious enough to warrant capital punishment, it’s not clear what would be. Roof is accused of massacring nine people who were attending a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, allegedly motivated by racial hatred and a desire to ignite a race war.
Clinton frequently references the Charleston shooting on the campaign trail, praising the family members of shooting victims who expressed forgiveness for Roof despite the horrible deeds he is accused of.
In contrast to Clinton’s apparent indecisiveness, Sen. Bernie Sanders has made clear that he opposes the death penalty, and Roof’s case is no exception.
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