Lethal injection drugs a hot topic as Supreme Court decision is expected soon

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule this month in a case that could decide the future of lethal injection execution protocol for death row inmates.

The case is Glossip v. Gross out of Oklahoma, but Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says it already has a direct impact on several Alabama inmates. Federal courts, along with the state Supreme Court, have each granted stays for scheduled executions until Supreme Court justices make their ruling.

That means, for now, Tommy Arthur's execution is on hold, along with a few others.

"This is a delaying tactic, I think, by those who are opposed to the death penalty," said Strange in an interview with WHNT News 19, "But regardless of that, the Supreme Court has the final word."

Glossip v. Gross deals with certain lethal injection drugs and their constitutionality. It challenges whether the drug midazolam should be used in the execution protocol, questioning its ability to reliably prepare an inmate for the drugs that follow in a humane way.

Federal judges say the case's outcome could change "the legal landscape" surrounding the 8th Constitutional Amendment that prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

In the meantime, inmates in Alabama and around the country are waiting to hear the final outcome. That may buy them time, but Attorney General Strange says it actually robs victims and their families of something else.

"It's just not fair to the families who have suffered horrendous crimes by people who are clearly guilty without a reasonable doubt," he said, "so it's frustrating that it takes so long."

He added that if the Supreme Court rules that this three-drug lethal injection combination is constitutional, the state of Alabama will ask the courts to allow them to carry out the sentences currently on hold.