Justices Give Murderers More Rights to Stop Executions

Many Challenges Already Successful, But There's a Simple Remedy
WASHINGTON - June 23, 2022 - PRLog -- The Supreme Court has just held, 5-4, that murderers on death row can now challenge their method of execution - in this case by legal injection - even if success would require significant delay because the state would have to pass a new law authorizing a different method for ending his life.

Since the legal standard for challenging an execution is easily met with a well-recognized and generally accepted method for painlessly ending a life, the public should expect many more challenges to scheduled executions; including challenges, like many successful ones in the past, which significantly delay the imposition of justice, warns public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

Kagan writes:  "To succeed on that claim . . he must satisfy two requirements. First, he must establish that the State's method of execution presents a 'substantial risk of serious harm'—severe pain over and above death itself.  Second, and more relevant here, he 'must identify an alternative [method] that is feasible, readily implemented, and in fact significantly reduce[s]' the risk of harm involved."

Banzhaf notes that there is - and has long existed - a "readily available alternative method of execution" which would "significantly reduce the risk of severe pain," and one which is used in several states to cause legally sanctioned death.

The simple alternative, Banzhaf notes, and an alternative to using injectable drugs for executions generally - with the many legal and other challenges this method has faced, and will continue to face - is putting the condemned on the pill.

Interestingly, Arizona has approved the use of barbiturates for executions, but oddly only if they are injected.

Moreover, and more importantly, in at least eight states (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) and in the District of Columbia, physicians are permitted to prescribe barbiturate pills so that terminally ill (and often old and frail) patients can achieve death with dignity without any pain or other suffering.

If state governments don't take advantage of this simple and proven method to cause death without any pain, they can only expect further legal challenges by death penalty opponents who can probably then show, according to the existing legal standard, that current execution methods - including lethal injections and the electric chair - create substantial risks of harm relative to a viable alternative; that viable alternative being painless barbiturate pills, Banzhaf predicts.

http://banzhaf.net/   jbanzhaf3ATgmail.com   @profbanzhaf

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