Today's top five stories
1. Alito votes against Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas on death penalty case
Samuel Alito's first case as Supreme Court justice was a life ethics issue, and he apparently voted not to lift a lower court's stay of the execution of Missouri's Michael Anthony Taylor. Opinion varies on whether it's significant that his vote went against the three conservative Catholic justices whom observers had predicted he would emulate: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. The Times of London headlines its story "Alito's first judgment surprises conservatives," but doesn't actually quote any surprised conservatives. The bloggers at National Review Online don't seem surprised.
The Associated Press gets the best quotes from a jurisprudence perspective, with Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center remarking, "It's a reasonable, cautionary vote. It doesn't necessarily indicate leanings toward death penalty defendants. But at least he's going to be his own person." The Kansas City Star has the best religion anecdotes, noting that Taylor spent yesterday with the Bible, the Koran, a tract called If you died today, would you go to heaven?, and Pastor Kim Gladney of Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City. SCOTUSBlog's Lyle Denniston has more analysis.
2. Fundamentalist Christian terrorists in Guatemala? Guatemalan police say they have arrested seven members of a group known as Vengadores Del Pueblo (Social Cleansing of the Town). "This was a fundamentalist Christian organization in character that harangued the town's population on religious themes, saying things like 'having two women is against the Bible,'" national police commissioner Victor Soto told the media. ...1
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