Supreme Court clears way for resumption of federal executions

Terra Haute, Indiana — The Supreme Court early Tuesday cleared the way for the resumption of executions of federal prison inmates, removing a hold placed hours earlier by a trial judge. But it was unclear when the first execution would be carried out. 

The justices voted to allow the first executions on the federal level since 2003 to proceed at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Daniel Lewis Lee had been scheduled to receive a lethal dose of the powerful sedative pentobarbital at 4 p.m. EDT Monday. But a court order preventing Lee’s execution, issued Monday morning by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, remained in place. 

Late Monday night, a federal appeals court in Washington refused the Trump administration’s plea to step in, before the Supreme Court acted. Still, Lee’s lawyers said the execution could not go forward after midnight under federal regulations.

Two more executions are scheduled this week: Wesley Ira Purkey on Wednesday and Dustin Lee Honken on Friday.

A fourth man, Keith Dwayne Nelson, is scheduled to be executed in August.

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