Supreme Court Allows Lethal Injection for Execution

The justices, by a 7-2 vote, turned back a constitutional challenge to the procedures in place in Kentucky, which uses three drugs to sedate, paralyze and kill inmates. Similar methods are used by roughly three dozen states.

‘‘We … agree that petitioners have not carried their burden of showing that the risk of pain from maladministration of a concededly humane lethal injection protocol, and the failure to adopt untried and untested alternatives, constitute cruel and unusual punishment,’’ Chief Justice John Roberts said in an opinion that garnered only three votes. Four other justices, however, agreed with the outcome.

The argument against the three-drug protocol is that if the initial anesthetic does not take hold, the other two drugs can cause excruciating pain. One of those drugs, a paralytic, would render the prisoner unable to express his discomfort.

The case before the court came from Kentucky, where two death row inmates did not ask to be spared execution or death by injection. Instead, they wanted the court to order a switch to a single drug, a barbiturate, that causes no pain and can be given in a large enough dose to cause death.

There are two notable reasons that states use the current 3-drug cocktail: The paralytic is given so that there are no movements by the prisoner during the process, which would be unpleasant to watch and could stir controversy over whether the prisoner was experiencing pain. The cocktail is favored over a single barbiturate because the latter is the method used to euthanize animals, and there is public discomfort with the idea of putting humans to death in the same way as animals.

The two dissenters were justices Ginsburg and Souter. What an appallingly bad selection Bush 41 made.


Who is “Bush 41”? Do you mean former President George H. Bush, that appointed Clarence Thomas? Ginsburg was appointed by President Clinton.

I was rather surprised that John Paul Stephens, traditionally the most liberal justice, did not dissent.

I think the comment was directed at Bush’s appointment of Souter, who, while presented as conservative to middle of the road, has shown to be only slightly to the right of Ginsberg.

Personally, I think the heavy barbituate is the way to go with DP cases, but what do I know.

Sickening display of the judicial system. It isn’t enough that the state is permitted, by law, to kill people. No…no… of course not… we want to make sure there’s at least a small chance that the inmate suffers! That’s American justice!

American justice at its best implies the rule of law, which requires that the court rule on what the law says, not on what the individuals on the court think it should say. As the majority decision held, the defense did not prove their case. A 7-2 majority from this court indicates that there is little doubt about the correctness of the decision.


With you there. If we’re going to execute people and we’re ‘uncomfortable’ putting people down the same way we do animals, what’s the reasoning behind giving the person the less humane treatment? Swap em around, let Fluffy get paralyzed, anesthetized, and deadifized, and put the human to sleep with one easy, painless shot.

A 7-2 majority from this court indicates that there is little doubt about the correctness of the decision.

Eh huh. So a 7-2 vote on this issue means the court is correct, but a similar vote on, say, the right to an abortion would be downright evil? Not sure how that one works…

I was careful, in making that statement, to include the qualifier “from this court”. Inasmuch as this court is as polarized between conservative and liberal as any in my lifetime, the fact that they don’t split 5-4 on an issue indicates a rather significant level of agreement on what the law says. There were also only one additional opinion (on the majority side) so again this shows a fair amount of unanimity.


Has everyone forgotten that Vatican II allowed the death penalty to be performed at the discretion of the state?

Only if that is the only way to protect society. In America, it isn’t.

I am finally convinced. We should ban the death penalty…right after (and not before) we ban abortion. :thumbsup:

Since more are killed by abortion and the victims are clearly more innocent, I will work tirelessly on abortion. As soon as the liberals come around on that, I will gladly throw my support toward banning the death penalty. Until then, I could care less whether the Supreme Court’s ruling matches the nuanced position of the Church on the death penalty.

This statement is not only grammatically incorrect it is also factually deficient. It turns out that there were a total of six different opinions. One significant comment was made by Justice Stephens, who concurred only with the judgment of the court’s opinion but disagreed with its reasoning and who wrote his own decision.

*“The conclusion that I have reached with regard to the constitutionality of the death penalty itself makes my decision in this case particularly difficult. *{Stephens believes the death penalty is unconstitutional} *It does not, however, justify a refusal to respect precedents that remain a part of our law. This Court has held that the death penalty is constitutional, and has established a framework for evaluating the constitutionality of particular methods of execution. Under those precedents, whether as interpreted by THE CHIEF JUSTICE or JUSTICE GINSBURG, I am persuaded that the evidence adduced by petitioners fails to prove that Kentucky’s lethal injection protocol violates the Eighth Amendment. Accordingly, I join the Court’s judgment.”

*We need to understand the significance of this thought: even though Stephens believes the death penalty is itself unconstitutional, inasmuch as it has not been ruled to be so, he recognizes the importance of applying the law as it exists.


I wasn’t informed on this issue until it became one earlier this year. Thus, I knew the death penalty was done via lethal injection, but not the details. Learning about the paralytic aspect of the lethal injection is the most horrid, IMO. It’s a rather obvious concession to the presence of pain for these people.

You are misinformed. With some offenders, the DP is the only way to make sure that society (including prison guards, visitors, and other inmates) is protected.


Unfortunately you are the one who is misinformed if you are still laboring under the delusion that America is without the means to keep violent offenders segregated. The death penalty in the States isn’t justice; it’s vengeance.

The decision was the legally correct one. At issue was whether or not the death penalty constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Any other decision would be trying to legislate through the an activist judiciary. It is not the responsibility of the courts to determine if we have capital punishment or not. They should only intervene if something is cruel and unusual.

We can keep them segregated, but we can not prevent them from being a danger to society. I would say I have the same delusion, but I happen to know better.

Interestingly, it turns out that justice requires vengeance. Vengeance is defined as *“punishment inflicted in retaliation for an injury or offense” *(Merriam-Webster) and it is the duty of the state to punish those who commit offenses against the law, therefore, for the state to act justly, it must take vengeance on the criminal by punishing him for his crime. What is not allowed is for the individual to take vengeance; that is the right and duty solely of the state. All punishment is vengeance; we’re just not accustomed to thinking about it that way.


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