Supreme Court: States can use disputed drug implicated in botched executions

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has upheld the use of a controversial drug that has been implicated in several botched executions.

The justices on Monday voted 5-4 in a case from Oklahoma that the sedative midazolam can be used in executions without violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

The drug was used in executions in Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma in 2014 that took longer than usual and raised concerns that it did not perform its intended task of putting inmates into a coma-like sleep.

Alabama has proposed using midazolam in a three-drug protocol for lethal injection.  Alabama death row inmate Tommy Arthur was granted a stay of execution in February, his sixth.  His challenge was against the combination of drugs used to execute inmates, and is one of several from death row inmates across the nation.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision on this issue. He released the following statement Monday morning:


“Opponents of lethal injections have repeatedly used court challenges of certain lethal injection drugs as ways to delay or avoid lawful executions. The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed our belief that executions using these lethal injection drugs are not cruel and unusual punishment, and therefore are not prohibited under the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken on the constitutionality of states’ use of lethal injections and death penalty opponents cannot continue to indefinitely delay lawful executions.”


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