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Texas executes inmate despite pending Supreme Court lethal injection review

[JURIST] Texas continued with the lethal injection execution of a convicted murderer Tuesday, despite the US Supreme Court's grant of certiorari [cert. petition, PDF] in a case reviewing whether the method is cruel and unusual and therefore unconstitutional. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in Baze v. Rees (07-5439) [docket] on whether the use of a three-drug mixture [DPIC backgrounder] of an anesthetic, a muscle paralyzer and a substance to stop the heart constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Texas, which executes more inmates that any other state, is one of the 37 states that uses this method. Texas Governor Rick Perry said that officials will continue with executions under the state's current interpretation of the law until the Supreme Court rules otherwise.

The Kentucky Supreme Court [official website] ruled in the Baze case that the current method of lethal injection does not violate the constitution [JURIST report] because the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment "does not require a complete absence of pain." Several constitutional challenges [JURIST news archive] to the procedure have arisen across the country, arguing that the first drug fails to make the inmate fully unconscious, thereby making the inmate suffer excruciating pain when the heart-stopping drug is injected. AP has more.

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