An overview of Glossip v. Gross and the university press books behind the case.
All manner of execution methods have been challenged before the Supreme Court, from firing squad to the electric chair, and not once in the court’s history has it ever invalidated any state’s chosen execution procedure. This streak continued in last week's Glossip v. Gross decision in which the Supreme Court ruled (in a contentious 5-4 split) that lethal injection and the three-drug cocktail administered in recent executions meets constitutional standards.
While crafting their opinions Justices drew from sources as diverse as Enlightenment-era philosophy, to pharmacology, to Slate articles.
“Welcome to Groundhog Day,” was the colorful opening of Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion—likely a reference to the similarities between Glossip and a 2007 déja vu-inducing case, Baze v. Rees, which similarly challenged the constitutionality of lethal injection (also to no avail). The petitioners in Baze—two death row inmates from Kentucky—lost their suit when the Supreme Court (in a less divisive 7-2 decision) sanctioned the three-drug cocktail commonly used in lethal injection: a sedative to render the condemned insensate to pain, a paralytic agent, and finally a drug that induces cardiac arrest.