- Jan 21, 2021
Although the Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution of Dustin Higgs Jan. 15, two justices made their objections known loud and clear in dissents that called into question the speed of these decisions and even the constitutionality of capital punishment.
After a flurry of court decisions, the Supreme Court reversed a pair of rulings from federal appeals courts that had put death-row inmate Lisa Montgomery’s execution on hold, and it denied two other last-minute requests to postpone the execution.
In a Nov. 12 Facebook post, Sister Helen Prejean, a Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille and longtime death penalty opponent, said: “We must stop the execution of Lisa Montgomery. Lisa was psychotic — unable to act rationally — when she committed a terrible crime. She desperately needed psychiatric care and instead she got a death sentence. “
A move by the Department of Justice to expand how it carries out federal death sentences — to include electrocution, gas or firing squads along with lethal injections –was sharply criticized by Catholic anti-death penalty activists.
Ahead of the execution of Orlando Hall that was scheduled for Nov. 19, and two more federal executions scheduled to take place in December, two U.S. bishops’ committee chairmen called on the government to end this practice.
Pope Francis tackled several issues in his new encyclical, but the section devoted to ending capital punishment was particularly cheered by U.S. Catholics who oppose the death penalty.