The Washington death penalty law is imposed in an arbitrary, racially biased manner and therefore violates the state constitution’s prohibition against cruel punishment, the Washington Supreme Court said Oct. 11.

Though the death penalty isn’t generally unconstitutional, it’s unconstitutional as administered in Washington, the opinion by Chief Justice Mary E. Fairhurst said.

This is the the fourth time the supreme court has declared the state’s death penalty law unconstitutional since 1972.

The evidence indicates the death penalty is applied disproportionately depending on where the crime took place, the defendant’s county of residence, the availability of resources, or the race of...