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The United States Law Week

Divided High Court Blocks Missouri Execution—For Now

March 21, 2018, 1:52 PM

A Missouri death row inmate won’t be executed—not yet, anyway—thanks to a March 20 stay from a divided U.S. Supreme Court.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., and Neil M. Gorsuch in noting publicly that they would have denied the stay.

Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch have banded together on multiple occasions this Supreme Court term to show they disagreed with their colleagues’ death penalty stays. But Roberts’s public disagreement is less typical.

Because execution stays require the assent of five justices, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy must have joined the court’s four Democratic...

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