The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld Kentucky’s method of putting criminals to death by lethal injection, not only clearing the way for Kentucky to resume executions but ending an unofficial moratorium in the 35 other states that have the death penalty.
However, Justice John Paul Stevens, while concurring reluctantly with the judgment of the court, wrote that he now believed capital punishment itself is unconstitutional, and that Wednesday’s ruling might serve to reignite the debate over whether it should exist in the United States.
By 7 to 2, the court rejected challenges to the Kentucky execution procedure brought by two death-row inmates, holding that they had failed to show that the risks of pain from mistakes in an otherwise “humane lethal execution protocol” amounted to cruel and unusual punishment, which is banned by the Constitution.
The prisoners had contended that the three-drug procedure used on death row — one drug each to sedate, paralyze and end life — was unconstitutional, and that in any event there were strong indications that Kentucky had bungled some executions, creating unnecessary pain for the condemned. Through their lawyers, they maintained that problems could be largely solved by administering a single overwhelming dose of a barbiturate, as opposed to the three-drug procedure.
The prisoners’ challenge had implications far beyond Kentucky. Of the 36 states with the death penalty, all but Nebraska, which uses the electric chair, rely on the same three-drug procedure that Kentucky uses. So does the federal government. Now, with the Kentucky challenge disposed of, other states that had set aside executions seem poised to begin them again. – nytimes
Disgusting. The current system is a drug induced paralyzed torture resulting in a very slow painful death. Some innocent people have been executed this way. Guilty or not, ANY revenge killing, where no life is at currently risk from the convicted person, is the filthy work of a barbaric uncivilized society. Two wrongs make two wrongs.