Supreme Court rejects death row appeal to stop federal executions

People wait in line to attend the opening day of the new Supreme Court mandate in Washington, October 1, 2018.

Aaron P. Bernstein | Reuters

The Supreme Court said Monday it will not hear an appeal filed by four death row inmates trying to block a lower court order allowing the Trump administration to proceed with their executions.

The decision was announced in an unsigned order. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have heard the appeal.

Attorney General William Barr announced last year that the government would carry out federal executions for the first time in nearly two decades.

Inmates questioned the execution protocol on the grounds that executions must be carried out “in the manner provided by state law.”

A federal district court ruled for the inmates, but a three-judge panel of the DC federal appeals court reversed that decision in April with a 2-1 vote.

Three of the executions are scheduled for next month. A fourth is scheduled for August. The prisoners, Danny Lee, Wesley Ira Purkey, Dustin Lee Honken and Keith Dwayne Nelson, have been convicted of murdering children, among other crimes.

The case is Alfred Bourgeois v. Attorney General William Barr, No. 19-1348.