Thursday evening, the Supreme Court vacated an injunction entered by the district court in Hamm v. Reeves. This order allowed the execution of Matthew Reeves to proceed. The Court split 5-4. Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh were in the majority. Justice Barrett simply indicated that she would have denied the application, without a noted dissent. Justice Kagan wrote a three-page dissent, which was joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor.
I think this is the first case where the new Roberts Court split 5-4 on a capital case. How do we explain Barrett’s vote? I think she is simply opposed to issuing relief on the shadow docket–especially where the Supreme Court is vacating a lower-court injunction. Barrett made this point very clear in John Does 1-3 v. Mills.
Going forward, capital defendants can hope to pick off one more vote to get a favorable ruling.
from Latest – Reason.com https://reason.com/volokh/2022/01/27/scotus-splits-5-4-on-capital-case/