Friday, April 21, 2017

Neil Gorsuch’s very first decision on the Supreme Court was to let a man be killed


Thursday evening, Neil Gorsuch — who occupies a seat on the Supreme Court that Senate Republicans held open for a year until Donald Trump could fill it — cast his first public vote since his ascension to the high Court. Hours later, a man was killed because of Gorsuch’s vote. The case underlying that vote, McGehee v. Hutchinson, involved eight inmates that Arkansas hopes to execute in eleven days. As Justice Stephen Breyer explains in a dissenting opinion, “the reason the State decided to proceed with these eight executions is that the ‘use by’ date of the State’s execution drug is about to expire.” In recent years, state death chambers have struggled to obtain the drugs they use to execute inmates because many drug companies refuse to sell drugs for this purpose. The Court handed down a series of orders denying relief to some or all of these inmates Thursday night, including a 5–4 decision in which Gorsuch cast the tie-breaking vote. Shortly after the Court handed down these orders, Arkansas executed Ledell Lee, its first execution since 2005.

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