Supreme Court keeps federal executions on hold

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A federal appeals court rejected an emergency bid from the Trump administration to move forward next week with the first federal execution in nearly 17 years, setting up a potential showdown at the Supreme Court.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The 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.

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