The Supreme Court voted 5-4 early Thursday to clear the way for the execution of Wesley Ira Purkey, lifting two injunctions that had temporarily halted the second federal execution in 17 years. Purkey's lawyers had argued his dementia was so advanced now he "no longer has a rational understanding of why the government plans to execute him." The same five conservative justices who had allowed the execution of another federal inmate on Tuesday did not find that argument persuasive. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer, dissented, writing that "proceeding with Purkey's execution now, despite the grave questions and factual findings regarding his mental competency, casts a shroud of constitutional doubt over the most irrevocable of injuries."
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