The Supreme Court is split 5-4 over whether to delay executions while it considers whether it is unconstitutional to use chemicals in the process. Five executions have occurred this month over the objection of four justices, reports the Associated Press.
In the past, the high court sometimes has agreed that if four justices wanted to hear an inmate’s appeal, a fifth justice would provide the fifth vote for a stay of execution. In the recent cases, Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer have voted to delay the executions. At issue is a drug mixture used in lethal injections. The court is considering an appeal from David Larry Nelson, an Alabama inmate who says his collapsed veins would require officials to cut deep into his flesh to insert a needle. The court is considering only the timing of Nelson’s appeal.
Several dozen executions are scheduled in coming months in Georgia, Texas, Ohio, Florida, California, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania.