x
0
SCOTTRADE ACCOUNT IT'S TIME. It's time for an easier way to invest. Open a Scottrade Account
Apply Now

Arkansas execution flurry marks early test for new Justice Gorsuch

Stock MarketsApr 21, 2017 03:22PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks after his swearing as an associate justice of the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington

By Lawrence Hurley and Jon Herskovitz

(Reuters) - Newly appointed conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch helped clear the way for Arkansas to hold its first execution in 12 years, a sign of the challenges facing other inmates seeking to block their executions next week.

In his first recorded vote, President Donald Trump's pick for the court sided as expected with its renewed conservative majority. The justices voted 5-4 to reject an emergency application brought by several inmates before Arkansas executed convicted murderer Ledell Lee.

Lee's lethal injection for the 1993 beating death of Debra Reese was the only one carried out so far by the state this month, despite an original plan to execute eight inmates in April before its supply of one of the three drugs used expires.

The executions would be the most by any state in the shortest period since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in the United States in 1976. Four of those executions have been indefinitely delayed by stays for matters including DNA testing, clemency consideration or to allow for a decision in an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case.

Gorsuch's vote could again be crucial next week when Arkansas plans to execute three more inmates.

On Monday, the state will try to put two inmates to death on the same day, something that has not been done in the United States in 17 years. Arkansas also plans a single execution for Thursday.

As a conservative justice in the mold of the man he replaced, Antonin Scalia, Gorsuch is seen by most court-watchers as unlikely to undermine the death penalty.

Kent Scheidegger, a lawyer with the pro-prosecution Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, said Gorsuch is "not one who will further delay justice when it has already been badly delayed merely because the lawyers for a death row inmate bring weak claims at the last minute."

The court has rejected stays for the eight men, including Lee. Their lawyers have argued that Arkansas' rush to the death chamber amounted to cruel and unusual punishment, and violated the inmates' right to counsel and their right to access the courts and counsel during the execution process.

What a possible Gorsuch vote means for the upcoming Arkansas executions depends largely on the individual legal issues raised by the inmates and whether lower courts intervene. The Supreme Court’s default approach to emergency applications is to deny them, whether from a state or a prison inmate.

There may be further indications on how Gorsuch will approach such cases on Monday, when the court hears oral arguments in a death penalty case from Alabama. It concerns inmate James McWilliams, sentenced to death for a 1984 rape, robbery and murder.

The question is whether McWilliams has a right to an independent medical expert to assess whether he is mentally disabled and therefore ineligible for execution.

Two of the Arkansas death row inmates the state had planned to execute this week, Don Davis and Bruce Ward, had their cases put on hold by the Arkansas Supreme Court pending the U.S. high court’s decision in the McWilliams case, due by the end of June.

There are no signs that the U.S. Supreme Court is inclined to tackle the broader question of whether the death penalty is unconstitutional under the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

The court's conservatives, including Gorsuch, would be expected to uphold capital punishment.

Arkansas execution flurry marks early test for new Justice Gorsuch
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Post 1000
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Post 1000
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
 
 
 
Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Add Chart to Comment
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.