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Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

Arkansas judge blocks state from using lethal drug

Death-penalty opponents on the front steps of Arkansas' Capitol to protest the state's plan to execute seven inmates before the end of April.
Death-penalty opponents on the front steps of Arkansas' Capitol to protest
the state's plan to execute seven inmates before the end of April.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on Arkansas' efforts to execute seven inmates before the end of the month (all times local): 

7 p.m.


An Arkansas judge has blocked the state from using a lethal injection drug in its upcoming executions of six men after a company says the drug wasn't sold to be used for capital punishment.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen issued a temporary restraining order Friday preventing Arkansas from using its supply of vecuronium bromide in the executions. 

The executions have been scheduled to start Monday night.

McKesson, a medical supply company, has said the prison system bought the drug believing it would be used for medical purposes. 

The company has said it had been reassured the drug would be returned and even issued a refund, but it never was.

Griffen's order came the same day the state Supreme Court halted the execution of one of two men scheduled to die Monday night.

5:55 p.m.


The Arkansas Supreme Court has halted the execution of one of two inmates facing lethal injection Monday under the state's multiple execution plan.

Justices on Friday issued a stay in the execution of Bruce Ward, one of seven inmates the state plans to put to death before the end of the month. Ward's attorneys had asked for the stay after a Jefferson County judge said she didn't have the authority to halt Ward's execution.

Arkansas has scheduled the executions to occur before the state's supply of midazolam, one of three drugs used in its lethal injection protocol, expires at the end of the month. The inmates have filed a flurry of lawsuits in state and federal court to halt the executions.

2 p.m.


Death-penalty opponents are gathered on the front steps of Arkansas' Capitol to protest the state's plan to execute seven inmates before the end of the month.

The actor Johnny Depp appeared alongside Damien Echols, who spent nearly 18 years on Arkansas' death row before he was freed in 2011 in a plea deal in which he maintained his innocence. Depp was among several celebrities who lobbied for the release of Echols and the two other men convicted in the "West Memphis Three" case.

The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty's Friday rally comes as a federal judge weighs whether to grant the inmates' requests to block their upcoming executions. The first executions are set for Monday night.

Source: The Associated Press, April 14, 2017

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