Court Battles

Supreme Court clears way for execution of two Oklahoma death row inmates

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The Supreme Court on Thursday cleared the way for the impending executions of two Oklahoma death row inmates, including the lethal injection of one inmate scheduled for later Thursday. 

The 5-3 ruling lifted the stay put in place a day earlier by a lower appeals court over concerns that Oklahoma’s execution method risked inflicting undue suffering.

The Supreme Court’s three more liberal justices dissented. Justice Neil Gorsuch, one of the court’s more conservative members, did not participate in the case. 

The move reinstates the imminent execution of John Grant, who was sentenced to death for the brutal 1998 stabbing murder of a fellow inmate while Grant was serving life in prison. 

Grant and another death row inmate, Julius Jones, were granted a brief reprieve Wednesday when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit halted their executions to allow an appeal to play out. 

A divided three-judge panel of the appeals court voted to let the inmates press their claim that Oklahoma’s three-drug lethal injection method carried “a substantial risk of severe pain” in violation of constitutional protection from cruel and unusual punishment.  

The Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday, however, cleared the way for Grant’s execution later today and Jones’s execution slated for Nov. 18. 

An attorney for the inmates did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tags Capital punishment death penalty Lethal injection Neil Gorsuch Oklahoma SCOTUS Supreme Court

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