Alito parts with conservatives on execution
Thu Feb 2, 2006 9:08 AM ET166
By James Vicini
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Samuel Alito disagreed with the court's conservatives
and refused to allow Missouri to execute a man
convicted of kidnapping and killing a Kansas City
teenager 17 years ago.
Alito sided with the majority in a 6-3 vote that
rejected a last minute request to allow Missouri to
carry out the execution of Michael Taylor, 39, by
lethal injection at midnight, a court spokesman said
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia
and Clarence Thomas voted to let the execution
The court's action was contained in a two-sentence
order. The state's request was presented to Alito, who
has responsibility for appeals from the U.S. appeals
court based in Missouri, and he referred the request
to the full court.
Earlier on Wednesday, the court had issued orders that
would have allowed the execution to proceed.
Taylor pleaded guilty, along with an accomplice, to
kidnapping, raping and murdering 15-year-old Ann
Harrison in 1989. The men abducted the girl as she
waited for a school bus in front of her home.
He has challenged his death sentence on the grounds
that the three-drug cocktail of lethal chemicals used
in executions carry the risk of undue suffering,
violating the U.S. Constitution's protection against
cruel and unusual punishment.
Alito was sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court justice on
Tuesday, becoming the second conservative, after Chief
Justice John Roberts, put on the court by President
George W. Bush.
Alito replaced Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a moderate
conservative who had been the swing vote in a series
of 5-4 decisions on social issues.
Alito has been expected to align himself with the
court's conservative bloc, which could affect the
outcome of votes on key social issues.
The way a justice votes on a stay request does not
necessarily signal how the justice will rule on the
merits of a death penalty case. The court earlier this
week granted a similar stay of execution to another
death row inmate from Florida.
Last month, the court said it would use the case of a
Florida death-row inmate to decide whether last-minute
challenges can be brought under the federal civil
rights law to the drugs used in lethal injection.
The court appears to be holding cases that raise the
same issue until it hears arguments and rules on the
issue, which is expected by the end of June.