- Court: United States Supreme Court
- Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
- Date Filed: June 29, 2015
- Case #: 14-7955
- Judge(s)/Court Below: ALITO, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and SCALIA, KENNEDY, and THOMAS, JJ., joined. SCALIA, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which THOMAS, J., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which SCALIA, J., joined. BREYER, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG, J., joined. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, and KAGAN, JJ., joined.
- Full Text Opinion
Four inmates on death row in Oklahoma filed for a preliminary injunction to stay their executions by lethal injection claiming that the method of lethal injection violated their Eighth Amendment Constitutional rights. The district court held that the prisoners failed to identify an alternative method of execution that would produce a substantially less risk of pain. Additionally, the district court held that the prisoners failed to show that the midazolam Drug demonstrated a risk of severe pain. The 10th Circuit affirmed.
The Court denied the prisoners a claim for preliminary injunction because they failed to establish a likelihood of the success on the merits of their claim that the use of midazolam violates the Eighth Amendment (prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment). The Court also held that the Prisoners failed to show that the risk of harm was substantial and avoidable.
The Court based their holding on Baze v. Rees, 553 U.S. 35, which held that for an Eighth Amendment claim to be successful the Petitioner must show that the method of execution will cause a risk of severe pain and that there are acceptable alternatives that have a lower risk of producing pain. The Court affirmed the ruling in Baze, stating that the elimination of all risk of pain in administering the death penalty is not supported by the Constitution.