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US top court declines to weigh in on federal executions

The US Supreme Court rebuffed a challenge to plans to resume executions by the federal government after a 17-year break - SAUL LOEB / ©AFP
The US Supreme Court rebuffed a challenge to plans to resume executions by the federal government after a 17-year break - SAUL LOEB / ©AFP

(AFP)

The US Supreme Court refused Monday to intervene in President Donald Trump’s administration’s decision to resume federal executions after a 17-year break.

The top US court rebuffed a suit challenging the lethal injection to be used in the July 13 execution of Daniel Lewis Lee, a white supremacist.

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Lee was sentenced to death in 1999 for the murder of a couple and their eight-year-old child in Arkansas.

The mother of one of the victims implored Trump to grant clemency to the condemned man. But the Republican president has so far not acted on the appeal.

Trump, who faces re-election in November, has often called for stepped up use of capital punishment, especially for killers of police and drug traffickers.

Support for the death penalty has waned among Americans, with only 54 percent favoring it for convicted murderers, compared to about 80 percent in the early 1990s.

Only a handful of US states, mainly in the conservative South, still actively carry out executions. In 2019, 22 people were put to death for capital crimes.

Most crimes are tried under state laws, but federal courts can judge some of the most serious crimes — terror attacks, hate crimes and the like — as well as those committed on military bases and Indian reservations.

Over the past 45 years, only three people have been executed at the federal levels, including Timothy McVeigh, who was put to death by lethal injection in 2001 for the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma that killed 168 people. The last federal execution dates back to 2003.

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