The Supreme Court today upheld Kentucky’s lethal injection executions, the Associated Press reports. the ruling is expected to clear the way to resume executions that have been on hold for nearly 8 months. Voting 7 to 2, the justices turned back a constitutional challenge to the procedures in place in Kentucky, which uses three drugs to sedate, paralyze, and kill inmates. Similar methods are used by about three dozen states.
Three justices led by Chief Justice John Roberts said death row inmates had “not carried their burden of showing that the risk of pain from maladministration of a concededly humane lethal injection protocol, and the failure to adopt untried and untested alternatives, constitute cruel and unusual punishment.” Four other justices agreed with the result. The court left open challenges to lethal injections if a state refused to adopt an alternative method that significantly reduced the risk of severe pain. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter dissented. The decision may bring an end to the de facto moratorium on executions that has been in place since September 2007, said the Death Penalty Information Center.