In First Case, Alito Leans Left

Associated Press
Thursday, February 2, 2006

New Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. split with the court's conservatives last night, refusing to let Missouri execute a death-row inmate contesting lethal injection.

Alito, in his first case, sided with Michael Taylor, who had won a stay from an appeals court earlier in the evening. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas supported lifting the stay, but Alito joined the remaining five members in turning down Missouri's last-minute request to allow a midnight execution.

Earlier in the day, Alito was sworn in for a second time in a White House ceremony, where he was lauded by President Bush as a man of "steady demeanor, careful judgment and complete integrity."

He was also was given his assignment for handling emergency appeals: Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. As a result, Missouri filed with Alito its request for the high court to void a stay and allow Taylor's execution.

The court's split vote ended a frenzied day of filings for Taylor and the state of Missouri.

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