In a 6-3 vote, the Court decided not to overrule a temporary stay of execution issued by a lower court in Missouri for an inmate who was supposed to die by lethal injection at midnight last night.
"Alito Breaks With Conservatives In First Vote!" "Alito Sides With Liberal Justices!" "Alito Blocks Execution!" The media is soiling themselves over the silver lining they think they've suddenly found in the cloud. Except it's not.
Alito didn't block anything, first of all. He decided to let stand the ruling of the court closer to the case. He simply sided with the status quo. It was not a "Supreme Court decision," nor was there any formal ruling. There is absolutely no indication that this vote has anything to do with death penalty ideology; all indications are that Alito believes the death penalty itself is perfectly constitutional.
Oh, and for his supposed "break" with conservatives? Buried several paragraphs down in the CNN story, after the orgasmic excitement over Alito's supposed defection, is this:
An initial vote in the Taylor case came Wednesday afternoon, when all the justices rejected Missouri's effort to immediately end a stay of execution for Taylor.In other words, earlier in the very same day, the conservative justices had all voted exactly the same way Alito did. Justice Scalia agreed with Justice Alito on this case yesterday. Justice Thomas agreed with Justice Alito yesterday. Chief Justice Roberts agreed with Alito on this case yesterday. The fact that they later in the day changed their minds does nothing to change the basic fact of this case: it's not a "liberal/conservative" issue. All of the Supreme Court justices were able to see a good reason for upholding the stay at some point yesterday.
Much as liberals would love this to be a sign that Alito is actually John Paul Stevens without the stupid bow tie, they're grasping at straws. He's going to be a nightmare for them.
Related Tags: Supreme Court, Samuel Alito, Sam Alito, death penalty