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Supreme Court clears way for first federal execution since 2003

The Supreme Court ruled early Tuesday that federal executions can resume, reversing a lower court decision and paving the way for the first lethal injection since 2003 to take place at a federal prison in Indiana, AP reports.

The big picture: A lower court had delayed the execution, saying inmates had provided evidence the government's plan to carry out executions using lethal injections "poses an unconstitutionally significant risk of serious pain."


  • The high court ruled the execution could go ahead by a 5-4 vote, with conservatives in the majority.
  • Attorney General Bill Barr instructed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to reinstate the death penalty last year after a 17-year informal moratorium, which was first established so the Justice Department could review its lethal injection protocols.

Details: Daniel Lewis Lee, who was set to be executed on Monday, is a former white supremacist who was convicted in 1999 for robbing and murdering a family of three, including an 8-year-old girl.

  • The execution was originally scheduled to take place on Dec. 9, 2019, but has been held up in court.
  • Three family members of the victims sought this month to delay the execution because traveling across the country to attend would put them at risk of contracting the coronavirus. 

Where it stands: Lee’s execution was scheduled for about 4 a.m. ET Tuesday, though it remained unclear if it had taken place.

The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals

Some states are seeing dangerous levels of coronavirus hospitalizations, with hospitals warning that they could soon become overwhelmed if no action is taken to slow the spread.

Why it matters: Patients can only receive good care if there's enough care to go around — which is one reason why the death rate was so much higher in the spring, some experts say.

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Scoop: The Lincoln Project is becoming a media business

The Lincoln Project is looking to beef up its media business after the election, sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: The group recently signed with the United Talent Agency (UTA) to help build out Lincoln Media and is weighing offers from different television studios, podcast networks and book publishers.

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Trump, Biden strategies revealed in final ad push

Data: Bully Pulpit Interactive; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

President Trump is pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into Facebook ads on the Supreme Court and conservative judges in the final stretch of his campaign, while Joe Biden is spending over a million on voter mobilization, according to an analysis by Axios using data from Bully Pulpit Interactive.

The big picture: Trump's Facebook ad messaging has fluctuated dramatically in conjunction with the news cycle throughout his campaign, while Biden's messaging has been much more consistent, focusing primarily on health care and the economy.

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How NASA and the Space Force might fare under Biden

Joe Biden hasn't gone out of his way to talk about outer space during his presidential campaign. That could be bad news for NASA's exploration ambitions, but good news for the Space Force.

The big picture: NASA faces two threats with any new administration: policy whiplash and budget cuts. In a potential Biden administration, the space agency could get to stay the course on the policy front, while competing with other priorities on the spending side.

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Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal coronavirus response has only gotten worse

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note ±3.3% margin of error for the total sample size; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Americans believe the federal government's handling of the pandemic has gotten significantly worse over time, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: Every other institution measured in Week 29 of our national poll — from state and local governments to people's own employers and area businesses — won positive marks for improving their responses since those panicked early days in March and April.

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Republicans and Democrats react to Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation

President Trump said Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court and her subsequent taking of the constitutional oath Monday was a "momentous day," as she she vowed to serve "without any fear or favour."

  • But as Republicans applauded the third conservative justice in four years, many Democrats including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) warned of consequences at the rush to confirm a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the Nov. 3 election, with progressives leading calls to expand the court.
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CRISPR pioneer: "Science is on the ballot" in 2020

In her three decades in science, Jennifer Doudna said she has seen a gradual erosion of trust in the profession, but the recent Nobel Prize winner told "Axios on HBO" that the institution itself has been under assault from the current administration.

  • "I think science is on the ballot," Doudna said in the interview.

Why it matters: That has manifested itself in everything from how the federal government approaches climate change to the pandemic.

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Ted Cruz doesn't think the Hunter Biden attacks are working

Screenshot: "Axios on HBO"

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz told "Axios on HBO" he doesn't think the Trump campaign's focus on the Biden family's business dealings are having any sway with voters.

The big picture: After watching the Trump-Biden debate with "Axios on HBO" on Thursday night, Cruz said he thought Trump had done very well. But when asked whether he thought voters were moved by the release of the Hunter Biden emails, Cruz replied, "I don't think it moves a single voter."

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