The Slatest

Nebraska Legislature Bans Death Penalty Over Governor’s Veto

The Nebraska state capitol in Lincoln.

Katherine Welles/Shutterstock

Nebraska became the first “red state” to abolish the death penalty in more than 40 years on Wednesday, as its conservative-leaning state legislature overrode Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts’ veto of a ban on on the practice by a 30-19 vote. (Thirty votes is exactly how many were needed for an override.)

Members of Nebraska’s unique unicameral legislature are elected and conduct business on a nonpartisan basis, but the state’s voters lean strongly Republican, and 35 of the legislature’s 49 current members are registered Republicans. Though’s wording on the subject is ambiguous, it appears that 18 of those Republicans voted for the abolishment bill when it passed 32-15 on May 21, while 16 of them voted to override the veto Wednesday.* The AP wrote earlier this month that the alliance of legislators voting for the ban includes “conservatives who oppose the death penalty for religious reasons, cast it as a waste of taxpayer money and question whether government can be trusted to manage it.”

As of Wednesday, 19 states and Washington D.C. have banned the death penalty.

*Correction, June 5, 2015: This post originally misstated the margin of the May 21 death penalty vote. The bill was passed 32-15, not 32-19.