Supreme Court Rules Against Missouri Death Row Inmate

Supreme Court building

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision against Russell Bucklew, a death row inmate in Missouri, who claimed that his execution by lethal injection would cause him "severe harm and suffering" because he has a rare disease. Bucklew suffers from cavernous hemangioma, which causes blood-filled tumors to grow on his head, neck and throat, and if he were to undergo lethal injection he could suffer from prolonged suffocation due to this condition. 

Justice Neil Gorsuch, who wrote the opinion for the majority, emphasized that the Eighth Amendment "does not demand the avoidance of all risk of pain" in carrying out an execution. Bucklew had argued the state could consider death by lethal gas as an alternative, but the court ruled against it. In a strong dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that Bucklew had established that lethal injection could subject him to "constitutional impermissible suffering" but the majority holds that "the state can execute him anyway."

April 5, 2019 - 11:38am
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