Gorsuch faced early test in court's life-and-death power

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FILE - In this March 22, 2017 file photo, then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Just 11 days on the job, Supreme Court, Gorsuch had an early taste of the weighty power that sometimes comes to a member of the nation’s highest court. Gorsuch for the first time faced a vote in which he could have spared a man’s life. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) - The newest Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, has had an early taste of the weighty power that sometimes comes to a member of the nation's highest court.

Gorsuch for the first time faced a vote in which he could have spared a man's life.

His four more liberal colleagues voted to block the execution of a convicted murderer in Arkansas. But Gorsuch joined with his four conservative colleagues to let the state's lethal injection process go forward.

Just before midnight Thursday, Ledell Lee became the first person executed in Arkansas in nearly 12 years.

It's rare that a new justice is put to such a life-or-death test so early, and some justices have called such decisions the hardest part of the job.

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