Supreme Court Upholds Lethal Injection

In a 7-2 decision today the US Supreme Court upheld Kentucky’s method of execution by lethal injection.  This will permit Kentucky to resume executions. And, worse, it will end the unofficial moratorium in the 35 other states that use lethal injections in their executions.

The decision is here.  It’s long. And it is not uplifting.

Justice Stevens concurred but wrote that he now believes capital punishment itself is unconstitutional.  It’s about time.  Only Justices Ginsberg and Souter dissented.  There were seven votes to permit the killing to continue.

This is awful news for the hundreds of prisoners facing execution on death rows across America.

This isn’t much of an essay.  I’m disgusted.  I feel gullible to have believed that the death penalty would be abolished by the Supreme Court because of the means the state uses to exterminate its prisoners. This, at best, seemed to me to be a nice flanking attack, but hardly one we could expect to end a barbaric practice that was created by legislative action and has been practiced since before the Constitution itself.  

At the very most, those who battle against this barbarism and fight for abolition have been given a slight breather, a chance to catch their breath.  The battle now resumes.  Again.  Every death penalty case has to be fought and fought hard.  Every state where abolition can be won in the legislature needs to be organized.  Every organization that funds anti death penalty litigation and organizing needs to receive your funds.  We all need to add our voices to the call to abolish the death penalty in all cases.

I’d like to think that the 7 months we’ve had of de facto moratorium have taught us one important thing.  We can live without the death penalty.

 

6 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. Thanks for reading.

    I have to go, of all places, to night court. I’ll be back in a few hours and will try to respond to comments then.  

    • pico on April 17, 2008 at 10:36 am

    but I should note something about this:

    I feel gullible to have believed that the death penalty would be abolished by the Supreme Court because of the means the state uses to exterminate its prisoners.

    Nobody, not even the people who challenged the law in the first place, argued this.  That’s one of the reasons they were defeated so easily: their argument was that lethal injection was actually humane, but it’s the particular circumstances of injection that worried them.  According to the majority opinion, they failed to prove that the risk of mistake was great enough to warrant striking the law – and, unfortunately, there’s precedent for that.

    If we’re going to end the death penalty (and I sincerely hope we do – it’s barbaric), we need to do it on a state-by-state basis.  It’s not unconstitutional, and it’s highly unlikely it’ll be seen as unconstitutional anytime in the near future.    Here’s a good run-down of why that is, but it’s depressing.

Comments have been disabled.