The Supreme Court on Tuesday set the stage for a full-scale examination of whether execution by lethal injection violates the Eighth Amendment’s bar against “cruel and unusual” punishment.
The Court’s grant of review in the appeals by Kentucky death row inmates Ralph Baze and Thomas Bowling could trigger a moratorium in lethal-injection executions nationwide until the Supreme Court rules, which could be as late as next June. Lethal injection is the required or optional method of execution in 37 states, though some have suspended its use recently in the face of objections that it can cause excruciating pain before death.
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