SCOTUS Hears Arguments On Execution Drugs

By Hannah Garcia

LAW WEEK COLORADO

If the death penalty questions in Glossip v. Gross are any indication, even the narrowest of court challenges can have far-reaching implications.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments April 29 in Glossip v. Gross, a death penalty case challenging Oklahoma’s use of midazolam, part of a three-drug protocol meant to sedate a prisoner before death-inducing drugs are introduced.

With a string of well-publicized executions involving the drug gone awry, the high court is considering whether it violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

“There’s something a little bit surreal about going down this road to finding humane methods of execution,” said Aya Gruber, a constitutional law professor at the University of Colorado Law School. “Once you go down this road, it sort of exposes this whole enterprise of killing people — sending them to a cell and waiting to die, is it really humane?”

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the May 18, 2015 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.