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The Supreme Court Blocks Lethal Injection in Rare Ruling

In a rare ruling handed down last night, the Supreme Court blocked the execution of a convicted killer and rapist, presumably over renewed concerns that his lethal injection could be botched. A recent execution in Oklahoma—which utilized an untested combination of drugs, after the state’s previous execution drug supply expired—was called off mid-way through the process after the prisoner appeared to be trying to speak. The inmate in that case died more than 40 minutes later of a heart attack.

As USA Today notes, the Supreme Court almost never intervenes to reverse execution orders: “That could mean a majority of justices are concerned about a shortage of drugs that has forced states to rely on unregulated compounding pharmacies.” Officials in Missouri, where Russell Bucklew was scheduled to be executed, claimed that their drug cocktail would have been more efficient and effective than the one that Oklahoma authorities attempted to use. Bucklew’s lawyers argued that he suffered a birth defect that would have heightened the chances of the injection of the drugs failing …

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