Supreme Court: Lethal-injection drug midazolam constitutional

In a 5-4 decision on Monday, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the administering of midazolam, a drug which, when administered, induces unconsciousness prior to being injected with a paralytic and an injection designed to stop the heart.

At stake was whether or not the use of the drug midazolam is sufficient to induce a state of unconsciousness and prevent “cruel and unusual punishment,” a violation of the Eighth Amendment.  Midazolam is commonly used as a short-term central nervous system depressant.

On behalf of the three plaintiffs, all death-row inmates, defense attorney, Robin Konrad, stated before the justices:  “(midazolam) Can never maintain the deep coma-like unconsciousness that is necessary to prevent a prisoner from feeling the painful effects of the other two drugs in the protocol.

In his majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote:

“The prisoners failed to identify a known and available alternative method of execution that entails a lesser risk of pain, a requirement of all Eighth Amendment method-of-execution claims.  Second, the District Court did not establish that Oklahoma’s use of a massive dose of midazolam in its execution protocol entails a substantial risk of severe pain.”

The case, known as Glossip v. Gross stems from the execution of Oklahoma death-row inmate Clayton Lockett, who’s botched execution in 2014 saw him writhe in agony before dying of a heart attack. Midazolam was used during Lockett’s execution.

Oklahoma switched to midazolam after it could no longer obtain potassium chloride.

Many major European producers of potassium chloride banned its export to the United States to prevent its use in executions.

Access to the High Court, our space for civil discussion, remains available even for men consumed by ungovernable rage.  The three plaintiffs:

Richard E. Glossip:  Convicted for his role in a murder-for-hire case involving the death of an Oklahoma City motel owner beaten to death with a baseball bat in 1997.  The murderer, Justin Sneed, testified Glossip offered him $10,000 to kill motel owner Alan Van Teese.  Glossip claims he is innocent and has appealed on grounds of ineffective counsel.

John M. Grant:  While serving a 35-year sentence for a myriad of violent crimes, Grant stabbed to death prison cafeteria worker, Gay Carter.

Benjamin R. Cole:  In 2002, Cole was disturbed by the cries of his unattended 7-month-old daughter, Brianna.  Roiled by the interruption to his pastime of playing video games, Cole violently tossed his daughter in her crib, severing her spine and rupturing her aorta.  He returned to his video games and later checked on her condition.  She was dead.  Cole has a nearly-identical charge in California for abusing his infant son in 1987.

When their challenge to the verdicts fail on factual grounds, they resort to bottlenecking the court system with appeals, most on procedural technicalities or other frivolous matters, all in the lustful endeavor for freedom.


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