February 2, 2006

Justice Alito parts with conservatives on execution

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New Supreme Court Justice Samuel
Alito broke ranks with the court's conservatives late on
Wednesday, refusing to allow Missouri to execute a man
convicted of kidnapping and killing a Kansas City teenager 17
years ago, CNN reported.

Alito sided with the majority in a 6-3 vote rejecting a
last minute request to allow Missouri to carry out the
execution of Michael Taylor, 39, by lethal injection at
midnight, CNN said.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and
Clarence Thomas supported allowing the execution to proceed,
CNN reported.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Court rejected Missouri's bid to
immediately lift a stay of execution for Taylor. Alito did not
take part in that decision, the court order said.

Taylor pleaded guilty, along with an accomplice, to
kidnapping, raping and murdering 15-year-old Ann Harrison in
1989. The men abducted the girl as she waited for a school bus
in front of her home.

He has challenged his death sentence on the grounds that
the three-drug cocktail of lethal chemicals used in executions
carry the risk of undue suffering, violating the Constitution's
protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

Alito was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice on Tuesday,
becoming the second conservative, after Chief Justice John
Roberts, put on the court by President George W. Bush.

Alito replaced Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a moderate
conservative who had been the swing vote in a series of 5-4
decisions on social issues.

Alito was expected to align himself with the court's
conservative bloc and could affect the outcome of votes on key
social issues.