Lethal injection hearing: The Supreme
Court’s liberal and conservative wings
were sharply divided this week over
whether a controversial lethal injection
drug constitutes cruel and unusual
punishment. Oklahoma and other death
penalty states began using the sedative
midazolam because of a shortage of drugs
traditionally used in executions. But the
FDA has yet to approve the sedative for
putting people into a deep, coma-like
state, and death penalty opponents say a
number of inmates have remained conscious
after being injected with the drug.
During arguments, Justice Elena Kagan
noted that if the sedative wasn’t effective,
inmates would feel they were being
“burned alive from the inside” by the
lethal injection. Justice Samuel Alito Jr.
said opponents of midazolam were waging
a “guerrilla war” on the death penalty.
A decision is expected in June.
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