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WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court refused Monday to add a second lethal injection case to its docket, rejecting an appeal from a Tennessee inmate who claims the drug combination used in most executions amounts to unconstitutional cruel punishment. Justices will decide next month whether prisoners can file last-minute civil rights challenges claiming their deaths by lethal injection would be cruel. They had a chance Monday to schedule arguments next fall in a far more sweeping case, a direct constitutional challenge to lethal injection brought by Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman. He is on Tennessee’s death row for the 1986 beating death of a Nashville drug dealer. The federal government and every death penalty state but one use lethal injection. A group of Tennessee doctors had told justices that the three-drug combination used in that state and most others “makes it inevitable that, over time, some inmates will suffer excruciating and unnecessary torturous pain.” They also said that the state does not have properly trained medical officials to closely monitor prisoners during executions. Death penalty supporters contend that the Constitution does not guarantee convicted killers a pain-free execution. The case is Abdur’Rahman v. Bredesen, 05-1036.

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