Oral Arguments in Lethal Injection Case

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Baze v. Rees this morning. Arising out of Kentucky, the petitioners claim that the lethal injection method for execution violates the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution's provision against cruel and unusual punishment. The process of injection involves three separate injections, and anesthetic, a drug intended to paralyze, and the final drug designed to stop the heart. Should the initial anesthetic fail the paralyzing drug would prohibit the expression of pain caused by the final injection effectively rendering the condemned to lie helpless in excruciating pain.

Justice Scalia in the oral arguments today suggested that there is no requirement that executions be painless. Eh, what a guy!

Justice Souter, on the other hand, suggested that the court take the time to really look into the method of execution even if it means sending the case back down to the lower court.

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