U.S. Supreme Court

Justices to VA: What’s the Hurry to Execute?

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Two U.S. Supreme Court justices had a message for the state of Virginia: Slow down the machinery of death.

Justice John Paul Stevens issued a statement questioning Virginia’s rush to execution as the court declined to review a death-row inmate’s claim of ineffective counsel, the Washington Post reports. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined him.

The justices said the state should not have scheduled the execution of Christopher Scott Emmett before the Supreme Court had a chance to rule on his cert petition. Virginia’s governor delayed the execution to allow the Supreme Court to consider the case.

“I do not dissent from the court’s decision to deny certiorari,” Stevens wrote in the statement (PDF). “I do, however, remain firmly convinced that no state should be allowed to foreshorten this court’s orderly review of federal constitutional claims of first-time habeas petitioners by executing prisoners before that review can be completed.”

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