Justice Sonia Sotomayor, sharply dissenting from an execution order on Thursday, said if the law allowed a Tennessee inmate to die despite evidence of “horrific” pain during the process, the United States has “stopped being a civilized nation and accepted barbarism.”

Sotomayor criticized an unsigned order that denied a stay of execution to Billy Ray Irick. The inmate had challenged the three-drug cocktail the state planned to use in the Thursday night execution. He argued the drugs would result in excruciating torture before killing him.

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