October 30, 2007
Along with Kent at Crime & Consequences, I am still awaiting word on whether the Supreme Court will block Mississippi's effort this evening to execute Earl Wesley Berry. I am bad at reading tea leaves, so I am not sure what to make of the fact that the Supreme Court still has not yet resolved Berry's request for a stay coming from his lethal injection case in federal court. Perhaps the delay is a sign that the Justices are putting together some sort of opinion to accompany whatever action (or non-action) they take. Given that this Mississippi case has been on everyone's radar screen since last week, the Justices have had a bit more time than usual to adjudicate this matter with everyone is watching closely.
Some recent related posts:
Execution drama building in Mississippi case
Mississippi moratorium test case now primed for SCOTUS
Could states eager to execute quickly adopt a new execution method?
News on the Alabama execution stay from the Eleventh Circuit
UPDATE: While I was spending the evening playing dad taxi, the Supreme Court continued the de facto moratorium on lethal injection executions by granting a stay for Berry. This post from Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog provides all the peculiar details, including the court's stay order here. Up-to-date media coverage includes this piece by Jan Crawford Greenburg at ABC News, this piece by Linda Greenhouse at the New York Times and similar articles from Bloomberg and Reuters.
Over at CDW, Karl Keys provides this nuanced assessment of where matters now seem to stand in the moratorium debate:
In light of the United States Supreme Court’s stay tonight of the Earl Berry execution in Mississippi, I strongly suspect the fluid situation that has marked the subject of lethal injection has now somewhat solidified. There will likely be no additional executions by lethal injection until at least after oral arguments & conference in Baze v. Rees, save for volunteers, and most likely until well in to 2008. Note Nebraska does not use lethal injection, volunteers will still likely be executed, and states are free to abandon lethal injection for another method of execution; I still have difficulty calling it a “de facto national moratorium,” but without getting in to why it doesn’t work, as a general concept it aptly explains our current situation. [I would prefer to borrow a term from elsewhere, “a patch quilt moratorium” that is likely to show signs of fraying as it gets tested, pulled, and ages, however, nuance and clarity are, at least in this context, mutually exclusive].