A federal court order has put federal executions on hold. Now, fourteen states and the Trump Administration are urging the Supreme Court to lift this court order and allow four executions to proceed.
Last month, a federal judge temporarily stopped federal executions from occurring in order to let a legal challenge to lethal injection procedures be resolved. There has been ongoing controversy over the types of drugs used for lethal injections. Some states have had to switch their procedures in response to court cases.
Attorney General William Barr recently announced that the federal government would use a new drug for its executions. Inmates who had been sentenced to death said this violated the law. A federal judge has stopped executions in order to let the court battle over this legal question play out. This week, another federal court affirmed that order.
The Trump Administration wants to proceed with four executions. However, lawyers are arguing that federal law does not allow the Attorney General to mandate a uniform execution procedure. Instead, they say, the law requires that federal executions must follow the rules of the states in which they occur.
The states that filed the Supreme Court brief want the high court to intervene and allow executions to resume. They note that some of the states in which these executions were to occur follow the federal protocol. They also argue that they have an interest in seeing capital punishment sentences carried out.
The states who filed the brief are Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.
It is unclear if the Supreme Court will take up this case and issue a definitive answer.
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