Supreme Court denies Trump request to immediately resume federal executions
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.
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 Alito, joined by his colleagues Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, 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 Barr 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.