The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday rejected a request by President Donald Trump's administration to proceed with plans to carry out the first executions of federal death row inmates since 2003.
The justices left in place a hold imposed by a federal judge on four executions that had been scheduled by U.S. Attorney General William Barr for this month and next month as Trump's administration embraces the death penalty at a time when increasing numbers of states have given up the practice.
The brief order said that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that is now considering the case should rule "with appropriate dispatch."
The administration appealed to the Supreme Court after the appeals court on Dec. 2 refused to immediately allow the executions to resume.
Separately, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Friday granted a request made by the Trump administration and lifted a stay of execution for death row inmate Daniel Lewis Lee, who the government had wanted to execute on Monday. But as a result of the Supreme Court action, his execution will now be delayed.
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