Supreme Court denies Trump request to immediately resume federal executions

Supreme Court denies Trump request to immediately resume federal executions
© Greg Nash

The Supreme Court on Friday denied the Trump administration's request to immediately lift a block on federal executions so that it could move forward with a death sentence that was scheduled to be carried out on Monday.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) had filed an emergency request with the court to vacate a stay of all four planned federal executions. A fifth execution has also been delayed for unrelated reasons.

The first was scheduled for Monday and the others were set to be carried out through December and January.

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A federal judge last month ordered a hold on federal executions while a separate legal challenge over the DOJ's new lethal injection protocol plays out before an appeals court.

In a statement issued on Friday, conservative Justice Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoFormer senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses On The Trail: Why 2020 is the most important election in our lifetime Supreme Court sharply divided over state aid for religious schools MORE, joined by his colleagues Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchSupreme Court allows Trump administration to move forward with 'public charge' rule January reminds us why courts matter — and the dangers of 'Trump judges' Planned Parenthood launches M campaign to back Democrats in 2020 MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughDemocrats Manchin, Jones signal they're undecided on Trump removal vote Collins walks impeachment tightrope Supreme Court sharply divided over state aid for religious schools MORE, urged a quick resolution of that case.

"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," Alito said.

The federal government has not carried out a death sentence since 2003.

During the Obama administration, cases challenging the death penalty went dormant as the government found it increasingly difficult to supply the three-drug cocktail that it was using for lethal injections.

But the Trump administration has been aggressive in its efforts to resume executions. In July, Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrBolton told Barr he was concerned Trump did favors for autocrats: report DOJ says surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Page lacked evidence Senators press DHS over visa approval for Pensacola naval base shooter MORE announced a new execution protocol that would utilize a single drug called pentobarbital.

"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 at the time.

Updated 7:45 p.m.