Opinions Relating to Orders - 2019

Barr v. Purkey

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, with whom JUSTICE GINSBURG, JUSTICE BREYER, and JUSTICE KAGAN join, dissenting. In a matter of hours, the Government plans to put to death Wesley Purkey, a 68-year-old federal inmate who has Alzheimer’s disease and, according to a recent in-person evaluation by a forensic psychiatrist, “lack[s] a rational understanding of the basis for his execution.” Complaint in No. 1:19–cv–3570 (D DC), Exh. 1, Doc. No. 1–1, p. 12 (Purkey Psychiatric Report). Due to these developments and rapid deteriorations in Purkey’s mental state, his counsel filed an action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The complaint alleges that under Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U. S. 399 (1986), Purkey is mentally incompetent to be executed and, at minimum, is entitled to an evidentiary hearing to evaluate his mental competence before the Government proceeds with his execution. The District Court below preliminarily enjoined Purkey’s execution, finding that the evidence Purkey has put forth thus far established a likelihood of success on the merits of his claims.