Monday, December 9, 2019

SCOTUS halts federal executions

The Supreme Court will not allow the Trump administration to resume executions in federal death penalty cases after a 16-year hiatus, reported The New York Times. The move, which left in place a preliminary injunction from a federal judge in Washington, effectively stayed the executions of four men scheduled to be put to death in the coming weeks. The court’s brief, unsigned order said it expected an appeals court to decide the inmates’ challenges “with appropriate dispatch.”
In a separate statement, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., joined by Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh, said that the inmates “were convicted in federal court more than 15 years ago for exceptionally heinous murders” and that “the government has shown that it is very likely to prevail” when the case moves forward.
“Nevertheless,” Justice Alito wrote, “in light of what is at stake, it would be preferable for the district court’s decision to be reviewed on the merits by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit before the executions are carried out.”
He wrote that he would have set a deadline for the appeals court to act.
“The court has expressed the hope that the court of appeals will proceed with ‘appropriate dispatch,’ and I see no reason why the court of appeals should not be able to decide this case, one way or the other, within the next 60 days,” Justice Alito wrote. “The question, though important, is straightforward and has already been very ably briefed in considerable detail by both the solicitor general and by the prisoners’ 17-attorney legal team.”
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