While Court Schedules, Texas Executes
The Supreme Court yesterday announced that it will consider whether Kentucky's lethal injection procedure violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishments." The future of the death penalty is not at stake here. But the High Court move cast a legal shadow on the protocols in all 37 states that execute condemned prisoners by injection.
If you were a prison official or state lawyer, you'd probably wait to see what the Justices decide on the matter before proceeding with any more executions, right? After all, you wouldn't want to execute a man by a certain injection procedure only to learn next June that the procedure violates vital constitutional principles, right?
Well, in Texas last night, state officials used lethal injection to execute a man named Michael Richard. "We will go forward with our interpretation of the law," Gov. Rick Perry said. The Supreme Court refused to issue a stay. And another Texas execution is planned for later this week.
Perhaps that's not surprising for a state with a history of defying the Supreme Court over capital cases. And, if the Supreme Court does send states back to the drawing board on lethal injections next spring, there's no guarantee that the Texas courts, or the federal courts in Texas, will heed the call.
But many other states are reconsidering their injection procedures. They're trying to ensure that condemned prisoners get the right doses of medicine, in the right order, at the right time, from professional personnel in dignified and appropriate conditions. In California, for example, state and prison officials are reacting to a federal trial judge's decree. And, in Florida, officials are figuring out what to do after a botched execution last December prompted then-Gov. Jeb Bush to order a statewide halt.
So Supreme Court guidance would be useful here-- whether the Court decides to uphold or strike down the Kentucky protocols. But, if the lower-court opinions are any indication, it may be time to rethink lethal injection procedures. Stripped of its legal pretense, the issue can be framed this way: If we are to have capital punishment in this country, we have to do it right. And there is too much evidence, from too many states, that this simple standard is not being met.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Constitutionalist | September 26, 2007 11:49 AM
Posted by: M | September 26, 2007 01:13 PM
Posted by: Sorry, couldn't resist | September 26, 2007 01:25 PM
Posted by: maddog56 | September 26, 2007 04:31 PM
Posted by: Singing Senator | September 27, 2007 09:26 AM
Posted by: FrankTireur | September 28, 2007 04:03 AM
Posted by: qxmzenlpbg | October 10, 2007 05:19 AM
Posted by: 3jit9u5xd0 | October 17, 2007 04:13 PM
Posted by: i4hwyvdg7v | October 17, 2007 04:13 PM
Posted by: xhnzyu wxbk | November 10, 2007 05:56 AM
Posted by: nkeotv lgznrkhd | November 10, 2007 05:57 AM
Posted by: crepindhes | November 15, 2007 11:46 AM
Posted by: lopieur | November 27, 2007 02:10 PM