From LA Times Blog
The U.S. Supreme Court gave no explanation for its highly unusual, four-hour delay in acting on a last-minute stay of execution request from convicted killer Troy Davis.
It takes five of the nine justices to order a halt to a state execution. And few legal experts expected a majority of the high court to stop the Davis execution since the justices had denied his final substantive appeals earlier this year.
However, several of the liberal justices have filed dissents in recent executions. In late June, for example, the court cleared the way for a Mexican national to be executed in Texas over the objections of the State Department, but the decision came on a 5-4 vote. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan disagreed.
No dissents were recorded in the Davis case. About 10:20 p.m., the court released a one-line order saying that the “application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Thomas and by him referred to the court is denied.”
Justice Clarence Thomas is the justice for the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Georgia, Florida and Alabama. Although emergency appeals are sent first to the justice who oversees the circuit, all nine justices decide the issue.
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