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Chief Justice John Roberts stands with Liberals in capital punishment case

The court had already suspended the execution of inmate Vernon Madison last January.

At a vote by 5 votes to 3, Chief Justice John Roberts sided Wednesday with the Liberals on the ground in favor of Madison.

Only eight judges had heard the case because Judge Brett Kavanaugh had not yet been confirmed at the time the case was investigated.

"The state court, we have little doubt, can evaluate these issues better than us." It must do so as a first step in assessing Madison's jurisdiction – and in doing so. assuring that, "he must be executed, he understands why," wrote Judge Elena Kagan. in the opinion of the majority.

States are prohibited from executing individuals whose mental state prevents them from understanding the reason for the punishment.

"The judges had already voted in favor of the suspension of the execution of Madison last January.The decision today to return the case to the state court So it's not surprising, "said Steve Vladeck, an analyst at CNN's Supreme Court and a law professor at the University of Texas. Law School. "This remains important, however, because for the second time in eight days, Chief Justice Roberts has joined with the most progressive judges to form a majority of supporters of a death row inmate. not that this is a sign that the leader's opinions on the death penalty have changed, but there is further evidence that he has become the pivotal vote on the court's most controversial cases. "

Madison was convicted three times of firing on the cape. Julius Schulte, who was responding to a domestic disturbance call from April 1985. Madison, who was on parole, fired twice at Schulte, according to court documents.

His sentence was imposed in 1994 by a judge after a jury recommended life without parole.

Madison has suffered a series of strokes, particularly in 2015 and 2016, and has been diagnosed as suffering from vascular dementia.

Veronica Stracqualursi, Steve Almasy and Mayra Cuevas of CNN contributed to this report.

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