In a ruling issued late Wednesday night, a federal judge ordered a temporary halt to next month's scheduled executions of four federal inmates. The judge ruled that Trump lacked the legal authorization to use the intended lethal-injection drug.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) had been on a 16-year hiatus from capital punishment that the Trump administration had been set to break.

“There is no statute that gives the BOP or DOJ the authority to establish a single implementation procedure for all federal executions,” District Judge Tanya Chutkan wrote in her 15-page ruling, according to a Reuters report.


There are currently 62 federal inmates on death row, according to Reuters, and one of the men saved from the execution was Daniel Lewis Lee, a white supremacist who was convicted for murdering a family of three, including an 8-year-old girl.

"Congress has expressly authorized the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President,” Attorney General William Barr said in a July statement that announced the reintroduction of federal executions. “Under Administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals..."

The lawyers for the inmates argued that the decision was the proper call for the system of checks and balances, and was effective at holding the executive branch down.

“This decision prevents the government from evading accountability and making an end run around the courts by attempting to execute prisoners under a protocol that has never been authorized by Congress,” Shawn Nolan, one of the attorneys for the men facing federal execution, said in a statement reported by Reuters.

President Trump has long been a proponent of the death penalty, looking to increase its usage for drug traffickers and mass shooters, according to a report by Axios.