Nebraska is on the verge of making history. In a bipartisan move, the state’s legislature on Wednesday voted 32 to 15 to abolish the death penalty. All that stands in the coalition’s way at this point is Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, a staunch defender of capital punishment, who has promised to veto the measure.
The Republican and Democratic lawmakers who have united to support the bill oppose the death penalty on moral, religious, fiscal, and limited government grounds.
If passed, the measure would replace lethal injection for life imprisonment. According to Attorney General Doug Peterson, in Nebraska, this sentence would effectively mean life in prison without the possibility of parole.
If the bill becomes law, the Cornhusker State would be the first red state to abolish the practice since North Dakota did in 1973.
“The conservative Republicans’ positions as expressed in Nebraska are basically a microcosm of what’s going on with conservatives about the death penalty nationwide,” Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told The Christian Science Monitor. “Abolition in Nebraska could empower conservatives in other 'red' states to move forward because they know it can be done.”
The legislature needs 30 votes to override a veto from Gov. Ricketts, which could come as early as Tuesday.