Attorney General William Barr revealed Thursday he’d be willing to take the administration’s fight to restart federal executions to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Barr’s comments to The Associated Press came after U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan ruled Thursday to postpone four of five scheduled executions for next month; the fifth already had been halted. The Trump administration appealed the decision.
The government has put to death only three defendants since restoring the federal death penalty in 1988, most recently in 2003, when Louis Jones was executed for the 1995 kidnapping, rape and murder of a young soldier.
If the government were to win the appeal, the executions could begin as soon as Dec. 9. Barr argued that the inmates in question were just five of 62 currently on death row.
“There are people who would say these kinds of delays are not fair to the victims, so we can move forward with our first group,” Barr said.
The inmates selected to face execution had exhausted their appeals, and the cases were forwarded to senior Justice Department officials who reviewed the cases and made recommendations to him, Barr added.
Some of the selected inmates challenged the new procedures in court, arguing that the government was circumventing proper methods in order to execute inmates quickly — and wrongly.