U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Argument About Lethal Injection


On Monday, January 7, 2008, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Baze v. Rees about the constitutionality of lethal injection.

The petitioners will argue that a state violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment when its execution procedures create a significant and unnecessary risk of inflicting severe pain that could be prevented by the adoption of reasonable safeguards. Justices will hear that the three-drug lethal injection protocol used in Kentucky and other death penalty states inflicts torturous pain if the prisoner is not properly anesthetized.

The Court’s hearing argument about the method of execution, on the heels of its recent decisions forbidding execution of children and persons with intellectual disability, signifies mounting concern about the increasingly complicated, expensive, and arbitrary administration of the death penalty.