Supremes Allow Lethal Injection for Execution

The Supreme Court today upheld Kentucky’s use of lethal injection for executions. The 7-2 vote backed the procedures in place in Kentucky, three drugs which some asserted constitute cruel and unusual punishment because they can cause great pain.

From the NYTimes:

”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.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter dissented.

ABC News tells of instances where the condemned endured prolonged, agonizing deaths:

In Florida, convicted murderer Angel Diaz was executed in 2006. But a medical examiner’s postmortem examination revealed that due to the improper injection of the anesthetic in his case, he had chemical burns on both arms. Experts believe he would have felt extreme pain for 20 to 30 minutes.

In Ohio, Joseph Clark was sentenced to death for killing a gas station attendant. But his 2006 execution was botched. It took him 86 minutes to die while he screamed in pain.

Even his victim’s brother, Michael Manning, watched in horror. “He started to shake his head from side to side,” said Manning. It took a technician 19 tries to insert the deadly intravenous needle.

Manning said what he saw in that execution chamber should not have happened. “I believe in the death penalty, but I side on the constitutionality side of it. The Eighth Amendment says no cruel and unusual punishment, and that’s what I think it was.”

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was dismissive of such facts, again from ABC:

Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia said, “Where does this come from that you must find the method of execution that causes the least pain? We have approved electrocution. We have approved death by firing squad. I expect both of those have more possibilities of painful death than the protocol here.”

The United States stands in strange company as one of few countries in the world that still permit capital punishment. From Ask Yahoo!:

All European Union countries have abolished the death penalty. Any country wishing to join the Union must follow suit. As this map shows, capital punishment is most often found in Asia and Africa, plus the United States.

Countries and territories still using capital punishment include Afghanistan, the Bahamas, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, North and South Korea, Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Uganda, and Vietnam.

The U.S. government and its military allow the death penalty. Capital punishment is legal in 38 American states. Meanwhile, these states have abolished it: Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The District of Columbia also doesn’t have the death penalty.

We stand with China, Iraq, Libya, Jordan, Rwanda and Sudan.

Good for us. Scalia must be proud.