In December, the Supreme Court issued a surprise ruling that stopped the executions so that the prisoners could pursue their legal arguments before a federal appeals court. Three judges – Samuel Alito Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – signaled that they reluctantly agreed to the delay and considered the inmates’ arguments to be weak.
In April, the DC Circuit issued a fragmented decision that overturned a lower court decision that issued an injunction against the plan to resume lethal injections for federal inmates.
The two Republican appellate panel candidates agreed that the district court’s decision was erroneous, although they differed in degree. The only democratic commissioner said the federal government was legally required to follow every aspect of a state’s execution protocol, if any, or to hand over the execution to the state for execution.
Earlier this month, Attorney General William Barr ordered the Bureau of Prisons to restart the plan.
Three executions are scheduled for July and one for August. all in US prison in Terre Haute, Ind.
The four-inmate case is still pending at the Washington District Court, where lawyers might pursue other legal arguments to block the executions, but these efforts are very likely.