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Same-sex marriage is not the only major item on the Supreme Court’s docket this week: Today, the court will begin considering the future of a drug used in lethal injections. The suit, Glossip v. Gross, was brought by three Oklahoma inmates sentenced to death and challenges the use of the sedative Midazolam. The inmates’ lawyers argue that the drug—used in the botched execution of Clayton Lockett, who gasped for air and writhed in pain for a prolonged period as he was put to death—violates the Eighth Amendment’s protection from cruel and unusual punishment.
While only four states currently administer Midazolam, a Supreme Court ruling upholding its use could lead more states to employ the drug in executions. An opposite ruling could make lethal injection, and death penalty execution in general, rarer than it is now. Outlawing Midazolam, one of the few available lethal injection drugs, could leave states without any viable alternatives. Ahead of the oral arguments, read up on Mother Jones‘ best coverage of lethal injection and death penalty issues.
The story of the botched Oklahoma execution that sparked the Supreme Court case.
Why lethal injection is a terrible way to kill people.
The facts on the lethal injection cocktail, which includes Midazolam, that states have begun using.
Sometimes, the executioners administering the drug have no idea what they’re doing.
Arizona has a particularly bad track record on lethal injection.
The story of Ohio’s effort to shield what happens in the execution chamber.