WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court stepped in early this morning and shot down a lower court’s injunction on federal executions, thereby clearing the way again for convicted child killer and druggie Dustin Honken to get a lethal dose of pentobarbital sodium on Friday and mercifully die.
NIT reported Monday that executions would be put on hold for now due to a ruling from the D.C. district court. The Department of Justice immediately appealed those rulings.
In a 5-4 opinion issued around early Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for federal executions to resume. Immediately following the ruling, Daniel Lee, a white supremacist who killed a family of three back in the 1990’s, was executed. It was the first federal execution in 17 years. Dustin Honken is scheduled for Friday, July 17 to get a lethal dose of pentobarbital sodium injected into his body and meet his maker.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court writes, “The plaintiffs in this case are all federal prisoners who have been sentenced to death for murdering children. The plaintiffs committed their crimes decades ago and have long exhausted all avenues for direct and collateral review. The first of their executions was scheduled to take place this afternoon, with others to follow this week and next month. To carry out these sentences, the Federal Government plans to use a single drug—pentobarbital sodium—that ‘is widely conceded to be able to render a person fully insensate’ and ‘does not carry the risks’ of pain that some have associated with other lethal injection protocols. Hours before the first execution was set to take place, the District Court preliminarily enjoined all four executions on the ground that the use of pentobarbital likely constitutes cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. Vacatur of that injunction is appropriate be- cause, among other reasons, the plaintiffs have not established that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their Eighth Amendment claim. That claim faces an exceedingly high bar.”
With this ruling, Dustin Honken’s luck seems to have run out once and for all.
Days earlier, some religious men begged President Donald Trump to intervene. Citing federal death row prisoner Dustin Honken’s “spiritual growth and the need to move away from cycles of violence,” Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark called on President Trump to withdraw Honken’s July 17 execution date and commute his sentence to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Cardinal Tobin previously led the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, and in that capacity, he met Honken and ministered to him personally.
“I have known Mr. Honken for seven years,” Cardinal Tobin wrote, visiting him several times a year at the U.S. Penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana, to minister to him and other Catholic death row prisoners. “His present spiritual guide, Father Mark O’Keefe, OSB, confirms that the spiritual growth in faith and compassion, which I had witnessed in our meetings some years ago, continues to this day.”
Cardinal Tobin acknowledged the deep pain that the families of Mr. Honken’s victims have suffered, but urged that “killing Mr. Honken will do nothing to restore justice or heal those still burdened by these crimes. Instead, his execution will reduce the government of the United States to the level of a murderer and serve to perpetuate a climate of violence which brutalizes our society in so many ways.”
On July 1, four Iowa bishops also begged for Honken’s life, writing to Trump, “Dustin Lee Honken was convicted in 2004 of the horrific acts of killing five people, including two children. He is scheduled to be executed on July 17, 2020. We ask that you commute Mr. Honken’s sentence, as well as the sentences of others to be executed this summer, from death to life without the possibility of parole. It is a duty of the state to punish offenders and defend the common good and this would still be accomplished by commuting his sentence.”