Supreme Court keeps federal executions on hold

Clay Curtis
December 9, 2019

There was no dissenting opinion in the Supreme Court ruling, though three judges - Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh - said that while they agree with the ruling, they expect the federal government to succeed in its legal battle to resume executions.

The federal executions are likely to remain on hold for at least several months, while the appeals court in Washington undertakes a full review of Chutkan's ruling.

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He disclosed that the federal government planned to execute five people convicted of murder, including a white supremacist. His death sentence will now be postponed again, nearly 20 years after his conviction.

"The Justice Department upholds the rule of law - and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system", Barr said in July when he announced the government was set to resume executions.

An attorney for one of the inmates praised the ruling.

Since taking office, Trump has appointed two judges to the Supreme Court and conservative justices outnumber liberals by five to four.

James Corden plays Boris Johnson in SNL sketch ahead of election week
Fallon portrayed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while Rudd parodied French President Emmanuel Macron . They told her Barack Obama might be stopping by.

The lower court rulings, if left intact, would bring House Democrats closer to getting some of the details about Trump's business interests even as they pursue an impeachment inquiry focusing on his dealings with Ukraine.

"The courts have made clear that the government can not rush executions in order to avoid judicial review of the legality and constitutionality of its new execution procedure", said Shawn Nolan, a lawyer for one of the inmates. Protracted litigation over the drugs used in lethal injection executions prevented the government from continuing the practice.

Chutkan ruled that the procedure approved by Barr probably violates the Federal Death Penalty Act.

Following the appeal, 14 states across the country filed a joint brief to the Supreme Court on December 4, to support the administration. The states include Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, South Dakota, and Texas. Danny Lee was the first inmate scheduled for execution, at 8 on Monday morning.

Purkey was convicted in the 1998 kidnapping, rape, murder and dismembering of a 16-year-old girl in Kansas.

Purkey's lawyers have filed a separate challenge to his execution, saying he should be spared because he has developed Alzheimer's disease. The man has a separate lawsuit pending in a federal court in Washington, D.C.

A fifth execution was separately blocked by another federal appeals court. Mitchell beheaded a 63-year-old woman and her 9-year-old granddaughter.

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