A divided Supreme Court has rejected appeals that would have put off the execution of Arkansas inmate Ledell Lee.
More appeals to the high court were possible Thursday night.
The four liberal justices dissented from a court order late Thursday that would not only have stopped Lee's execution, but also three more the state intends to carry out before the end of the month. That's when its supply of a key execution drug expires. New justice Neil Gorsuch voted with the majority of five to deny the stay of execution sought by Lee and the other inmates.
Justice Stephen Breyer said he was troubled that the main reason for wanting to proceed with the executions was the looming expiration of the drug midazolam.
Breyer asked, "Why these eight? Why now?"
Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period before the end of April, when its supply of one lethal injection drug expires. The first two executions were canceled because of court decisions. Legal rulings have put the others in doubt.
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