The Supreme Court has upheld the three-drug lethal injection method used by the state of Kentucky in a 7-2 decision, clearing the way for a nationwide stay on executions to be lifted.
Chief Justice John Roberts penned the case opinion, while two Justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter, dissented.
The two convicted murderers at the center of the case, Ralph Baze and Thomas C. Bowling, had unwittingly caused an unofficial moratorium on executions across the country. Since the high court took their case last September, no executions were carried out as state and federal courts waited to see how the Supreme Court was going to rule.
Of the 36 states with a death penalty law on the books, all but one has designated lethal injection as the primary method of execution.
Baze and Bowling had argued that death by lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The drugs included in the protocol are sodium thiopental, which anesthetizes; pancuronium bromide, which paralyzes; and potassium chloride, which causes cardiac arrest.
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