Kagan's First Vote Not Enough to Stop Execution
Elena Kagan cast her first vote Tuesday night as the newest member of the court. Unfortunately for convicted killer Jeffrey Landrigan, Kagan cast her vote with the minority of justices, who failed to stay Landrigan's execution by lethal injection.
The 5-4 ruling -- which was not signed, but received backing from Justices John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito -- overturned decisions by a Phoenix judge and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to stay Landrigan's execution, The Los Angeles Times reported. The lower courts had ruled that sodium thiopental, a drug used in Arizona executions, might not be safe for use as a means of execution.
A shortage of sodium thiopental in the U.S. has sent states looking elsewhere for the powerful sedative, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Arizona officials acknowledged that they had obtained their current supply from an unidentified source in Britain.
"There is no evidence in the record to suggest that the drug obtained from a foreign source is unsafe," the unsigned order stated. "...Speculation cannot substitute for evidence that the use of the drug is 'sure or very likely to cause serious illness and needless suffering.'"
Along with Kagan, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg voted to keep the stay in place, but within hours of receiving the court's ruling, the state of Arizona administered the sodium thiopental to Landrigan's arm, and he was pronounced dead at 10:26 p.m., CBS News reported.
The first inmate to be executed in Arizona since 2007, Landrigan had been on death row since 1990 after he was convicted of murdering Phoenix resident Chester Dyer in 1989 in what was described as a robbery.
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