The Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to the federal death penalty method, authorizing the executions of four men scheduled for the coming weeks. These would be the first uses of the death penalty in federal affairs since 2003.
Courts order was released on Monday. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have looked into the matter.
Daniel Lee, Wesley Purkey and Dustin Honken are expected to be killed in about two weeks; Keith Nelson is scheduled to be executed on August 28. Each man was found guilty of the murder of one or more children or minors.
Ruth Friedman, director of the Federal Capital Habeas Project, is a lawyer for Lee. She says there is a myth that the federal death penalty is the “gold standard” in capital punishment systems.
“The federal death penalty is arbitrary, racially biased, and characterized by a lack of law and trash science. Problems specific to the federal death penalty include over-federalization of traditionally state crimes and control limited court, “Friedman said in a statement on Monday.
“Despite these problems, and even as people across the country demand that leaders rethink crime, punishment and justice, the government is continuing its plans to carry out the first federal executions in 17 years,” she said. added.
Federal executions have been rare since the government reinstated them in 1988. Since then, there have been three such executions, all during the George W. Bush administration. Timothy McVeigh, convicted of the Oklahoma City bombing, killed 168 people.
As NPR reported, President Barack Obama ordered a review in 2014 on how the death penalty is applied in the United States, after a failed state execution in Oklahoma. In this case, medical officials had difficulty inserting the IV, and ultimately took over an hour after the execution began, the man was to die.
Attorney General William Barr indicated last summer he intended to resume the use of the death penalty at the federal level, using pentobarbital.
The federal government’s plan to use this one drug is disputed. Counsel for the Four Detainees Argued That Using One Drug, Rather Than the Three-Drug Cocktail Required In Many States, Is Infringement of Mandate for Federal Executions to Be Carried Out “in Prescribed Law of the state in which the sentence is imposed. “
“The American people, acting through Congress and the presidents of the two political parties, have long ordered that those accused of the most heinous crimes be given the death penalty,” said Barr. in a report earlier this month. “The four murderers whose executions are scheduled to take place today have been the subject of full and fair proceedings under our Constitution and our laws. We owe it to the victims of these horrific crimes and to the families left behind to continue the sentence imposed by our justice system. “
The executions should take place at the American penitentiary at Terre Haute, Ind. The justice ministry said “more executions will be scheduled at a later date”.
Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead man walking, said the High Court had “abdicated its legal and moral responsibilities”.
“This means that the federal government will likely execute four people from the month on using a lethal injection protocol not tested during a global pandemic without any real oversight from the Supreme Court. All of this is against the wishes of at least one family. victims “, Prejean wrote on Twitter.