U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has criticized conservative colleagues for leaving elderly coronavirus patients to die with no recourse.
According to Law & Crime, Sotomayor issued a strong dissent relating to an order allowing the Wallace Pack Unit, a “geriatric prison in southeast Texas,” to not institute COVID-19 safety procedures. At least 19 inmates have died so far.
“In September, the district court entered a permanent injunction requiring prison officials to implement basic safety procedures,” Sotomayor wrote in the dissent. “The Fifth Circuit, however, stayed the injunction pending appeal. Now, two inmates, Laddy Valentine and Richard King, ask this court to vacate the stay. Because they have met their burden to justify such relief, I would grant the application.”
But Law & Crime reported Justice Samuel Alito received the application to vacate an appellate court’s stay. The website noted an unknown number of Alito’s conservative colleagues denied the request.
“Given the speed at which the contagion spread, the 160- day grievance process offered no realistic prospect of relief,” Sotomayor noted. “In just 116 days, nearly 500 inmates contracted COVID–19, leading to 74 hospitalizations and 19 deaths.”
And she ripped the conservative Fifth Circuit.
“Contrary to the Fifth Circuit’s analysis, consideration of ‘the real-world workings of prison grievance systems’ is central to assessing whether a process makes administrative remedies available. When this suit was filed, the Pack Unit’s process plainly did not.”
Earlier this year Sotomayor, in a severely critical dissent, lashed out at conservative justices for being too willing to side with the Trump administration in permitting controversial policies to go into effect on an emergency basis.