The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court on Monday for permission to begin executing federal inmates as soon as next week.
The Justice Department said in a filing late Monday that lower courts were wrong to put the executions on hold.
Attorney General William Barr announced during the summer that federal executions would resume after a 16-year hiatus. The first execution by lethal injection had been set for Dec. 9.
US District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington, D.C., temporarily halted the executions after some of the chosen inmates challenged the new execution procedures in court. Chutkan agreed with the inmates that the government was circumventing proper methods in a quest to carry out executions quickly.
The federal appeals court in Washington on Monday denied the administration’s plea to put Chutkan’s ruling on hold and allow the executions to proceed.
Shortly before Chutkan’s ruling, Indiana Southern District Judge J.P. Hanlon denied Wesley Ira Purkey’s request for a stay of his execution. Purkey is on death row at the Indiana State Prison in Terre Haute, and Chutkan’s decision places his Dec. 13 execution date in jeopardy.