Gorsuch Casts First Major Tie-Breaking Vote Allowing Arkansas Executions To Proceed

Tyler Durden's picture

In what will undoubtedly be a memorable first major tie-breaking vote as a Supreme Court Judge, Neil Gorsuch cast the deciding vote last night to allow Arkansas to begin executing a group of 8 death-row inmates.  The decision came after attorneys for the State of Arkansas sought an expedited process to allow for the executions to proceed before their lethal-injection drugs expire at the end of April.  Per Bloomberg:

In a series of orders Thursday night, the high court cleared the state to execute Ledell Lee, one of eight convicted murderers that Arkansas has been trying to put to death before one of its lethal-injection drugs expires at the end of the month. Associated Press later reported the execution had been carried out.


“Apparently the reason the state decided to proceed with these eight executions is that the ‘use by’ date of the state’s execution drug is about to expire," Breyer wrote. "That factor, when considered as a determining factor separating those who live from those who die, is close to random."


Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan also voted to block the executions.

Shortly after the 5-4 decision, the Associated Press confirmed that the execution of Ledell Lee had been carried out and he was pronounced dead at 11:56pm.  The execution was the state's first in 12 years.

Lee was the first person in a group of what had been eight men Arkansas originally planned to execute in 11 days, the most of any state in as short a period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.



For his part, Lee was convicted of brutally beating a woman to death in 1993 with a tire iron according to Reuters...

Lee was convicted and sentenced to death for beating Debra Reese to death with a tire iron in 1993. Reese's relatives were at the Cummins Unit and told media Lee deserved to die for a crime that ripped their lives apart.


Lawyers for Lee, who had spent more than 20 years on death row, had filed numerous motions in various courts ahead of the lethal injection that had put the process on hold.

...seemed like a swell guy.

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robertocarlos's picture

He'd be alive if one of the 5 Judges had a bad cold. Or if he didn't do the crime. What, they can't afford new drugs?

OGREtheTroll's picture

Pharmaceutical companies are refusing to sell the drugs used for lethal injection.  Some don't want their products associated with executions, some have concerns about botched executions, and some simply object on moral grounds.  So states have a limited supply and can't get more, and the expiration dates are running out.  This leaves the states wanting to perform executions with few options, especially if lethal injection is the only method of execution permitted by statute.  They'd have to pass new legislation permitting other methods such as electric chair, hanging, or firing squad.

robertocarlos's picture

Thanks. I would not vote for electric chair. Maybe hanging and firing squad. No anti-aircraft guns though.

hooligan2009's picture

guillotine? or are they afraid there might be a "talking head" post execution?

BarkingCat's picture

Really?? So the drug companies not willing to sell these drugs is the reason? Sounds like a business opportunity. Hell, I could just buy whatever is used to euthanize animals and rebrand it to Dying Rat Executioner Deluxe and sell it to the states.

GunnyG's picture

Hang the fucker. Rope is cheap.

CHoward's picture

1 down - 7 to go

ChemtrailPilot's picture


Also, LOL at people weeping about MUH WIKILEAKS... you do realize that no matter what the US does, it's not going to have any effect on Assange, right? Do you even get that pro wrestling isn't real?

HarryKallahan's picture

Just because a jury finds someone guilty, doesn't mean that person did the crime.
Likewise, a not-guilty verdict by no means proves that person is innocent.

This guy was denied a DNA test. The judge denied the request because he hadn't asked for one before.  WTF?  Why these DNA tests aren't done automatically certainly raises the question of "What are they trying to hide?"  These tests are completed in a day or two, and they eliminate the uncertainty. No need for lengthy appeals.

This guy may have been a complete scumbag, but the question remains...What are they trying to hide?

I'm all for smoking the scumbags. But we need to be positive we got the right perp.

quesnay's picture

They should have tested the DNA. It's outrageous they will not. That said, he also violently raped two other women, one a teenager, so I won't lose any sleep over his death either way. Maybe 'rape' doesn't warrant the death penalty, but punishment in the US is outrageously inconsistent already. Some getting months and others getting decades for the exact same crime. Sentencing is basically all about 'feels' and what state you are tried in (and probably the color of your skin to).

kadoka's picture

how do we know that HIS vote was the tie breaker.  Any of the votes that agreed with him could have been the tie breaker.  Will he get credit for being the tie breaker everytime there is a close vote?

whatamaroon's picture

Damn, that bitch must have really pissed him off.

hooligan2009's picture

nasty man just bitch slapped Europe in the faeces!

from here: http://www.eidhr.eu/highlights/death-penalty

The EU strongly opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, and works towards the universal abolition of the death penalty, if necessary by lobbying for the immediate establishment of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to/which paves the way for abolition. Where the death penalty still exists, EU calls for its use to be progressively restricted and carried out according to minimum standards. The fight against the death penalty is an integral part of the EU’s human rights policy.

GunnyG's picture

Good news first thing in the AM! 

If he wasn't guilty of this crime he was guilty of others. We need to clear all of the vermin off of Death Rows. Tired of supporting these vermin with my taxes. 

Dorothea Binz's picture

I'm still waiting for someone to explain why states can't just use a hot, purified dose of heroin. Don't have to deal with drug manufacturers, death can be assured with the right dose, convict won't die of pain, (some may even more readily give up the fight to live), and availibility is better than aspirin,(Ok, that last one is a slight exaggeration).

quesnay's picture

Exactly. I've heard it's a peaceful way to go. You go to sleep, then you stop breathing.

quesnay's picture

Under Obama we murdered 2500 people without trial. Quite a few of those were women and children. The left didn't give two shits about the deaths of those people.


We murdered 200 or so just a few weeks ago and again, no shits were given.


If you are going to pretend that you care about governments murdering people, at least try to be consistent. Don't just 'care' when it fits your political agenda. Either you care all the time, or you're just an opportunistic hypocrite.

Bemused Observer's picture

In light of the proven false convictions leading to a death penalty, you'd think people in law would demonstrate a bit of humility in their decision-making. Justice is a worthwhile goal...vengeance is not. Seeking a death penalty when you already have the guy in custody is simply seeking vengeance.


As awful as the crime may have been, unless you personally eye-witnessed him DOING it, you are only making an informed decision...and you are being 'informed' by people, both prosecution and defense, who have an AGENDA. But by voting for death, you are also accepting the responsibility should your decision be wrong...And there are a LOT of jurors out there who have willingly voted to execute innocent people. Sure, they were SURE he was guilty, until the DNA evidence said he couldn't be...oooops!


I know conservatives love their death penalty, but just remember...if you vote for death, it's as if you killed him yourself. Best be absolutely SURE before pulling that trigger. You won't get excused for being wrong just because you THOUGHT you were right. And God won't care that you thought you were supporting law and order. He says you can have JUSTICE...but reserves the vengeance for Himself.


But you don't WANT justice. You want VENGEANCE. Even though God has shown, time and again, that we are too imperfect to be allowed vengeance, because we haven't mastered justice yet. Without justice, there's no way to make sure the vengeance doesn't fall on the wrong people.


Do you think any of those jurors who convicted innocent people did so KNOWING they were innocent? NO! They were SURE of guilt, convinced...enough to sentence another human being to death. But they turned out to be wrong, didn't they?


I wonder how they feel. If they had sentenced him to life, maybe they could do something to make it right. But they were sure...so sure. And in their certainty, they murdered an innocent person...How do you live with that?


GunnyG's picture

It costs about 75-100K a YEAR to keep these maggots alive. Fuck em. They murdered someone's kin so they deserve to die. It is easy to run your suckhole on how bad the Death Penalty is until you see the damage one of these bastard's do to the victim's family. Had a friend whose 12 y.o. sister was raped and murdered by some scumbag like this and left in a ditch. Hang em, shoot em, fry em, fucking send them to Hell.

SRV's picture

Kids are being raped by elites with impunity every day, yet those screaming about it online are subjected to vicious attacks and ridicule and no one of authority seems interested.

Your "just us" is only applied to the poor and disenfranchised... and that's a problem beyond the basic morality issues (and you're right up there with China, Iraq, Iran, and Saudi in that regard)

Where's your rage over that Gunny?

Bemused Observer's picture

I see your point...IF you are absolutely certain that the one being convicted is actually the one who did the crime. 


And that was my point...the jurors who voted for the death penalty for those who were later exonerated were 'absolutely certain'. BUT THEY WERE LATER PROVEN WRONG. What should such a person feel about what they did? What would be the normal reaction to learning you helped send an innocent man to his death because you were so angry about a crime he had nothing to do with?


Do you go to church on Sunday, and pray? What do you say in that prayer?


Not only did they condemn the innocent, but they also allowed the guilty one to remain free, because they pretended that the case was solved, when in fact it wasn't. How many more victims now suffer while you are playing legal games with an innocent person?


That 12 year old sister should never have had that happen to her. But how would railroading an innocent have helped this situation at all? As angry as you might be about violent crime, you need to recognize your own imperfections in dealing with it. Unless you are claiming our system is perfect, then it shouldn't be administering final punishments like death.

nobodysfool's picture

"What would be the normal reaction to learning you helped send an innocent man to his death because you were so angry about a crime he had nothing to do with?"

I can live with a 90%+ accuracy rate of executions if it rids society of the thousands of parasites who are robbing taxpayers of hard earned money by incarcerating them for the rest of their pathetic lives.  Because convicts who find themselves on Death Row are always guilty of other crimes.  

ebear's picture

Again the taxpayer argument. 

OK. Here's my low-cost solution to that seemingly intractable problem:

A penal colony on the Aleutian Islands.

No need for prisons, guards (and the pensions and benefits they accrue) - just give each inmate an insulated freight container, monthly basic provisions by airdrop, and a kayak and spear with which to hunt seals. (good luck making it to the mainland by kayak, even in summer)

Assign the inmates to seperate islands based on the severity of their crime and length of sentence.  Since there's no chance of escape, those who'd formerly be condemned to death would have a simple choice in front of them: learn to survive, or die.  Those with lesser sentences could be remotely supervised and assisted should they run into trouble, such as broken limbs or illness.

All crimes of a violent nature would be sentenced to one of these colonies, leaving the existing prison system for non-violent offenders only.  The concept of reform through labor also comes into play, as each inmate would have to draw on their own resources in the struggle against the elements - a situation that anyone from the north will tell you, builds character.  Combine this with a work-release program to the Alaskan mainland ONLY for those who meet strict criteria for re-entering society.

Anyone have a problem with this?

ebear's picture

12 high profile cases of wrongful conviction in Canada:


If the effectiveness of Canada's justice system is equal to that of the USA, and you assume the rate of violent crime per capita is the same for both nations, then by inference there are over 100 similar cases in the USA. The only difference is that some fraction of that number would have been executed before exclupatory evidence came to light.

When you pass a sentence of death, what you are really saying is:

1. The police conducted a thorough investigation where no evidence was coerced, fabricated, suppressed, ignored or mishandled.

2. The State and/or its prosecutor had no political motive vested in the case.

3. The judge acted correctly in admitting evidence, instructing the jury, and handing down sentence.

4. The jury was properly selected and all members were capable of rendering an impartial verdict.

5. Grounds for appeal were properly applied.

6. The appeals court acted correctly in all aspects of the case.


I have a big problem with 1 and 2, and I'm not so keen on 3 and 4 either.

In so-called open and shut cases, I have no problem with a sentence of life without parole, but given what we already know about the corruption of the criminal justice system and other branches of our so-called government, how can anyone in good conscience accept the state's power of death over ALL OF US when all these factors clearly exist?

More specifically, how can anyone wave the flag of Liberty and at the same time grant the power of death to the very institution - The State - that we seek to abolish, or at least minimize?

ebear's picture

from wikipedia:

As of October 1, 2016, there were 2,902 death row inmates in the United States.

Rounding that up to 3000 and multipling by your high number of $100K gives you an annual cost of $300 Million.  If the average life expectancy post conviction is 50 years (probably a high estimate) then $15 Billion - the approximate cost of one fully equipped modern aircraft carrier.  Now add in the cost of operation of that carrier over its 50 year life expectancy.

Just trying to put it in perspective, since wasted tax dollars, not the proper administration of justice, seems to be your priority.

rondellio's picture

This is true for all custodial sentences.  Even 5 years of enforced sodomy would be a life destroyre for most men.

effendi's picture

Killing a murderer or other serious violent offender isn't about vengance but about punishment and deterrence (would you commit a serious crime or take up a life of crime knowing an execution awaits you?) For a good portion of guilty verdicts it isn't that they are found guilty beyond reasonable doubt but they a found guilty beyond all doubt by multiple layers of evidence (including DNA).

nobodysfool's picture

"I know conservatives love their death penalty, but just remember...if you vote for death, it's as if you killed him yourself."

I'm fine with this...but I like an eye for an eye even better...let the punishment fit the crime, live by the sword die by the sword as they say...

Zeijandi's picture

Wonder if he supported Trump. :)

GunnyG's picture

No, scumbags , welfare parasites, criminals, corruptocrats, and losers are hardcore Democrats. You should know.

SokPOTUS's picture

It doesn't matter anymore. Now that he's dead, he can vote for Democrats in perpetuity.

Honus's picture

I've just never liked the idea of allowing the State to execute citizens. Sure, we can say that some deserve it. Still a bad power to give to any State.

Money_for_Nothing's picture

Raise an army and form your own no-killing-allowed state. To say the least your statement makes no sense and you don't understand that political power is based on violence. Luckily it is the people who count votes that run a country and not voters.

Davidduke2000's picture

"I killed a man on my first vote as a justice of the supreme court of the usa ", this should be on his headstone when he is gone. 

Money_for_Nothing's picture

A man who beat a women to death with a tire iron the woman's husband had given her to use as a protective weapon. Beat her 39 hits worth. Do you wonder how many bones he broke in her body? Do you think you could have beaten this cold blooded murderer with a tire iron? Or would he have taken it from you and sodamized you with it?

Harry Paranockus's picture

And yet, Buzzy Ginsburg voted against the execution because she feared that one of the drugs might cause some pain.

Davidduke2000's picture

what's wrong with torturing the man few times each week to remember his crime, now he is gone , what kind of punishement is that???

Herodotus's picture

For maximum deterence, these people should be hanged on the county courthouse square on a Saturday afternoon for the entire town to see. 

SRV's picture

China, Iran, Saudi, Iraq, and America lead the way in state executions.

What's that they say about the company you keep again...

Money_for_Nothing's picture

The reason Progressives don't want the death penalty enforced is because not enforcing the death penalty helps them to get their tax-and-spend agendas into law. Progressives are good with selling dead-baby-parts. Progressives are not squeamish about killing.

headless blogger's picture

I'm not a liberal and I find what they are doing with these executions as despicable and of Low-class and Low-IQ nature. Anyone that actually reads the cases on these guys will find that they do not have irrefutable evidence that they did the crime.

You have the same mentality as those progressives you bitch about.

daveO's picture

They once did before a certain "divide and conquer" segment took control of the Fed. Now, we'd have to change the name of Saturday to Dindunuffinday.

Swamidon's picture

OK for this guy but look out for all the monsters being kenneled in Max Sec Prisons now that will do their time and then be released into society.

Money_for_Nothing's picture

Lethal injection seems to have been turned into an unusual execution method. They should think about bullets (used everyday in Chicago) or hanging (Hernandez just the other day). Of course Judges want to talk people to death at other people's expense. Ginsburg killed her parents but got off because she is an orphan.

rkoen's picture

For liberals, it's one less potential voter.  And another possible "Trayvon-Ferguson" hero gone as well.

daveO's picture

Oh, he'll keep right on voting. ;)