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US Supreme Court lifts stay on execution of Alabama inmate

MONGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court decided Tuesday that the execution of an Alabama inmate could go forward even as he and other inmates challenge the state’s lethal-injection procedures.

Justices granted the request by the Alabama attorney general’s office to vacate an emergency stay issued last week by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as it hears appeals by Robert Melson and other inmates who contend Alabama plans to use an ineffective sedative at the start of the execution.

Melson was scheduled to be executed Thursday for the killing of three Gadsden restaurant employees during a 1994 robbery.

The Supreme Court order late Tuesday said Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor opposed vacating the stay.

Lawyer John Palombi wrote that the 11th Circuit was correct to issue the stay as it considers the appeals from the inmates, who say a federal judge prematurely dismissed their lawsuits arguing that the state’s execution method is unconstitutional.

Palombi wrote the stay was proper for the 11th Circuit to “manage the cases it has before it challenging Alabama’s method of execution.”

The Alabama attorney general has argued that midazolam’s use has already been upheld by the court and there are no outstanding legal issues. Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office wrote that the court has let other executions proceed using midazolam, including one in Alabama last month.

Alabama has executed three inmates using a protocol that begins with midazolam.

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