SALEM, Ore. — Oregon’s governor can deny execution for a death row inmate who wants to die, the state’s highest court ruled Thursday, affirming a gubernatorial power that has been at the center of a debate over the morality of capital punishment.
The ruling settles an argument between Governor John Kitzhaber and Gary Haugen, who was convicted of two murders, over whether Kitzhaber had the power to grant a reprieve that Haugen did not want.
Kitzhaber, a Democrat, opposes the death penalty and intervened weeks before Haugen was scheduled to be die by lethal injection in 2011. The governor vowed to block any execution during his term in office and urged a vote on abolishing the death penalty.
The Legislature has shown little interest in putting it on the ballot in 2014. Kitzhaber renewed his request after the ruling Thursday.
‘‘I am still convinced that we can find a better solution that holds offenders accountable and keeps society safe, supports the victims of crime and their families, and reflects Oregon values,’’ Kitzhaber said in a statement.