Alito, handling his first case, sided with inmate Michael Taylor, who had won a stay from an appeals court earlier in the evening. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas supported lifting the stay, but Alito joined the remaining five members in turning down Missouri's last-minute request to allow a midnight execution....President Bush expresses great concern about the "culture of life" and regards Alito as a man of ''steady demeanor, careful judgment and complete integrity.'' It will be interesting to see where that sound judgment takes him.
An appeals court will now review Taylor's claim that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment, a claim also used by two Florida death-row inmates that won stays from the Supreme Court over the past week. The court has agreed to use one of the cases to clarify how inmates may bring last-minute challenges to the way they will be put to death....
Taylor was convicted of killing 15-year-old Ann Harrison, who was waiting for a school bus when he and an accomplice kidnapped her in 1989. Taylor pleaded guilty and said he was high on crack cocaine at the time.
Taylor's legal team had pursued two challenges -- claiming that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment and that his constitutional rights were violated by a system tilted against black defendants.
The court, acting without Alito, rejected Taylor's appeal that argued that Missouri's death penalty system is racist. Taylor is black and his victim was white.
February 2, 2006
And so what do you make of it? The first thing Samuel Alito does as a Supreme Court Justice is vote to prevent the state from executing a man.