The Supreme Court of California justices on the bench. Photo via California Courts

(CALMATTERS NETWORK) – The California Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously rejected an attempt to make it harder for a jury to impose the death penalty — a direct blow to Newsom, who last year took the unprecedented step of urging the court to change the state’s application of capital punishment, citing a process “infected by racism.” However, the court’s decision also suggests the case is far from closed: In addition to noting that state lawmakers could consider changes to make the death penalty fairer, the justices also said future cases that rely on different legal arguments could potentially render California’s death penalty process unconstitutional. For the time being, the decision from the state’s highest court preserves the sentences for the 699 inmates currently on Death Row — though Newsom in 2019 said he would not carry out in executions while in office.

The ruling came a day after the state Supreme Court rejected another appeal from the Newsom administration — this one seeking to overturn a lower court decision requiring the Department of State Hospitals to promptly provide treatment for criminal defendants found mentally incompetent to stand trial. A state appeals court found that as of 2017, those defendants were held in county jails for an average of 86 days before being transferred to a hospital. The ruling upheld by the state’s high court would require California to cut that down to 28 days starting in January.