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 AlitoSpeculation swirls about next Supreme Court vacancy Supreme Court denies Trump officials' effort to block order on moving at-risk inmates Death row inmates ask for stay while they appeal to Supreme Court MORE, joined by his colleagues Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchSpeculation swirls about next Supreme Court vacancy Supreme Court denies Trump officials' effort to block order on moving at-risk inmates Juan Williams: Justice Thomas seizes his moment in the Trump era MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughSpeculation swirls about next Supreme Court vacancy The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Stakes high for Collins in coronavirus relief standoff 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 BarrTrump urges GOP to vote against bill reauthorizing surveillance powers This week: Surveillance fight sets early test for House's proxy voting Trump sides with religious leaders in fight against governors 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.