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The gas chamber at San Quentin State Prison in California just before it was dismantled in March. Photo: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via Getty Images

A U.S. District Court judge in Washington, D.C. temporarily blocked Trump administration plans to reinstate the death penalty by halting on Wednesday night the scheduled executions of four federal death row inmates.

Why it matters: Judge Tanya Chutkan writes in her order that Attorney General Bill Barr's plans to resume federal executions after a 16-year lapse comes into conflict with a 1994 federal law that specifies that federal executions should be conducted "in the manner prescribed by the law of the State in which the sentence is imposed."

  • There is a "likelihood of success" in at least one of the legal challenges by the four men scheduled to be executed next month, Chutkan writes in the order, first reported by Politico.
"Plaintiffs have clearly shown that, absent injunctive relief, they will suffer the irreparable harm of being executed under a potentially unlawful procedure before their claims can be fully adjudicated."

Driving the news: In July, Barr asked the acting director of the agency to schedule the executions of 5 death-row inmates convicted of murder under a lethal injection protocol, starting on Dec. 9.

  • NBC News notes the order covers four of those five men; the other, a Native American, had a stay of execution last month as a federal appeals court "could consider his argument that he wasn't allowed to question jurors for potential racial bias."

The big picture: No federal executions have taken place since 2003 — an informal moratorium as the Justice Department "reviewed its lethal injection protocols," per the Washington Post.

Read the order:

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Updated 47 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat.
  2. World: Greece tightens coronavirus restrictions as Europe cases spike.
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Education: Surge threatens to shut classrooms down again.
  5. Technology: Fully at-home rapid COVID test to move forward.
  6. Travel: CDC replaces COVID-19 cruise ban with less restrictive "conditional sailing order."

Trump's legacy is shaped by his narrow interests

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

President Trump's policy legacy is as much defined by what he's ignored as by what he's involved himself in.

The big picture: Over the past four years, Trump has interested himself in only a slim slice of the government he leads. Outside of trade, immigration, a personal war against the "Deep State" and the hot foreign policy issue of the moment, Trump has left many of his Cabinet secretaries to work without interruption, let alone direction.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Technology

AI and automation are creating a hybrid workforce

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

AI and automation are receiving a boost during the coronavirus pandemic that in the short term is creating a new hybrid workforce rather than destroying jobs outright.

The big picture: While the forces of automation and AI will eliminate some jobs and create some new ones, the vast majority will remain but be dramatically changed. The challenge for employers will be ensuring workforces are ready for the effects of technology.