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Supreme Court Upholds Execution Drug

In a 5-4 opinion written by Justice Alito, the Supreme Court has upheld Oklahoma's use of midazolam in executions. The reasoning:

Alito said the prisoners failed to identify a “known and available alternative method of execution that entails a lesser risk of pain,” which he said was required under the court’s previous ruling upholding lethal injection. And he said plaintiffs had failed to establish that a massive dose of midazolam “entails a substantial risk of severe pain.”

Some background is here. The opinion is here.

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    Ruling Is Cruel and Unusual (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by john horse on Tue Jun 30, 2015 at 05:50:15 AM EST
    I just don't understand Alito's reasoning.  If a form of execution is cruel and unusual, he would require prisoners (not the state) to provide an alternative form of execution or else the state gets to keep on using it.  Shouldn't that responsibility fall on those who support the death penalty?  What does the existence or lack of existence of an alternative have to do with whether a form of execution is cruel and unusual.  

    Alito's reasoning strikes me as both cruel and unusual.  

    Its too bad (none / 0) (#1)
    by lentinel on Mon Jun 29, 2015 at 12:07:16 PM EST
    that Sammy Alito can't interrogate someone who experienced being executed coming back to describe the relative virtues of varying toxic chemicals.

    Do you honestly think it (none / 0) (#2)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon Jun 29, 2015 at 12:13:14 PM EST
    Would matter?

    Parent
    This a frightening (none / 0) (#3)
    by KeysDan on Mon Jun 29, 2015 at 01:45:58 PM EST
    decision by Alito (5/4 by "patrician lawyers legislating from their activist benches").   The narrow issue before the Court was does Midazolam, a particular drug that appeals to Oklahoma for a good execution, sufficiently abate pain so that the next steps of the killing procedure do not result in cruel and unusual punishment. (described by Justice Kagan as like being burned alive--from the inside).

    Alito, of course, seizes the opportunity to get his licks in--for a law that he likes.   Since the death penalty is "settled law," there must always be a method of killing available.  As for pain, well, doesn't everyone want to have a painless death? But, it just does not always work out that way.  So, too, it must be for those the state puts to death. The state will try, if it can, but if not:  Tough cookies.

    And, if the condemned does not like the method picked out by Oklahoma is up to him/her to find a suitable and approved alternative for the killing.   Get a canny defense attorney.  Perhaps one with a doctorate in pharmacology.  And, definitely, one without ethics.  

    Alito sees the killing a problem of the field.  The private sector is deliberately not cooperating.  Maybe, an exemption to those dreaded government mandates.  But, for God's sake, make a suitable drug available to the executioner.  It is the Christian thing to do.  After all, you are big PHARMA get on it.  Enough of this "guerilla war" against the death penalty.  

    Of course, Alito's thinking was cat nip for Scalia (Thomas--what Scalia said).  Scalia became Scalia pretty fast: Scolding Justice Breyer's dissent that thoughtfully questioned the death penalty itself as a legally prohibitive cruel and unusual punishment.  

    The scold was not so much on the merits, but on personalized ridicule, including a mocking of Breyer's "20 years of experience on the Court." and his taking on the role of "abolitionist in this long-run drama."  

    Despite writing from the position of the majority, Scalia's dissent of the dissent smacked of defensiveness and removed whatever fragment of a fig leaf that  remained of his moral bankruptcy.

    In light of American history (none / 0) (#7)
    by Peter G on Tue Jun 30, 2015 at 09:00:27 AM EST
    how could "abolitionist" be thought to be an epithet? My feeling about the use of that term by anti-death penalty folks (among whom I certainly count myself) in recent years is that their use of the term to describe themselves is a dubious attempt to wrap themselves in the historical moral authority of those who risked their lives and freedom to end slavery, and which belongs to those heroes alone.

    Parent
    Alito's opinion makes it sound.... (none / 0) (#4)
    by magster on Mon Jun 29, 2015 at 10:04:24 PM EST
    .... like he wants to have every execution on video for him to watch and enjoy. He's a sick dude.

    I hope this doesn't seem off topic... (none / 0) (#5)
    by magster on Mon Jun 29, 2015 at 11:21:18 PM EST
    as it relates to the Court, but this article in Think Progress about how Roberts' dissent in the marriage case is a shot across the bow to other conservatives who are trying to revive the "Lochner" case is really interesting. I had no idea there was a schism amongst conservative judges.