Supreme Court Rejects Trump’s Move To Resume Federal Execution

The Supreme Court issued a halt on Friday to the Trump administration's attempts to reinstate the process of federal executions in the United States.

With 5 executions now needing to be rescheduled, this is a setback to Attorney General William Barr who had hoped to get the process moving along.


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From NBC:

he Supreme Court on Friday blocked the Trump administration from restarting federal executions next week after a 16-year break.

The justices denied the administration's plea to undo a lower court ruling in favor of inmates who have been given execution dates. The first of those had been scheduled for Monday, with a second set for Friday. Two more inmates had been given execution dates in January.

Attorney General William Barr announced during the summer that federal executions would resume using a single drug, pentobarbital, to put inmates to death.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington, D.C., temporarily halted the executions after some of the chosen inmates challenged the new execution procedures in court. Chutkan ruled that the procedure approved by Barr likely violates the Federal Death Penalty Act.

The federal appeals court in Washington had earlier denied the administration’s emergency plea to put Chutkan’s ruling on hold and allow the executions to proceed.

Federal executions are likely to remain on hold at least for several months, while the appeals court in Washington undertakes a full review of Chutkan's ruling.

Although the process now has a slight impasse, it is believed that the Trump administration "ultimately will win the case" within 60 days, according to Justices Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh.

If the Trump administration succeeds it will result in the first federal execution since 2003, a move that will likely ring true with a majority of Americans (56% favor the death penalty according to a 2018 Gallop poll). 

So why has there been such a delay in federal executions?

Time gives a brief explanation here:

Jones’ execution in 2003 sparked litigation against capital punishment that complicated and prevented its use in the federal system, a Justice Department official said. Another complication emerged in 2014 when convicted murderer Clayton Lockett, a state death row inmate in Oklahoma, convulsed and died of a heart attack 43 minutes into a botched lethal-injection execution there. It prompted President Barack Obama to call on the Justice Department to review the application of the death penalty nationwide.

So a major argument has been that the mix of medications used can end up torturing the person receiving the lethal injection.

This is likely why AG Barr has been pushing for the use of a single medication, pentobarbital, which is used on a daily basis to euthanize pets.

From Web MD:

The euthanasia medication most vets use is pentobarbital, a seizure medication. In large doses, it quickly renders the pet unconscious. It shuts down her heart and brain functions usually within one or two minutes. It is usually given by an IV injection in one of her legs.

When your pet passes, her eyes may not fully close. She may urinate or defecate. You may see her twitch or take a final breath. This can be startling, but it's a normal part of the process. Your pet isn't in pain.

So if it's good enough to use on our beloved pets in their last hours, isn't it good enough to use on the worst of villains?

Many would think so, but opponents seem to be slowing the process based on the question of where the government will be getting the pentobarbital, and how it will be governed.

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