The Supreme Court has declined to examine the constitutionality of lethal injection to carry out death sentences, says the Christian Science Monitor. The court’s refusal to weigh in now comes amid a growing number of death-row lawsuits challenging the method of execution. Some analysts had thought the court might use a lawsuit by Tennessee death-row inmate Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman to clarify the issue. Instead, the justices yesterday let stand a Tennessee Supreme Court decision upholding lethal injection under the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment.
“It means they will take this issue piecemeal at their own pace,” says Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes the death penalty. Since late January, courts have granted 11 stays in death-penalty cases, while other judges permitted 15 executions to take place. “There is a lot of confusion and arbitrariness out there with people getting stays and some getting executed,” Dieter says. The justices are expected to decide soon a Florida case examining whether an inmate’s lawsuit challenging a method of execution should be barred by strict limits on multiple appeals under the habeas statute or can instead be filed under the more permissive rules applying to civil rights suits.