The Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that death row inmates can file last-minute challenges to lethal injection after they’ve exhausted regular appeals, reports the Associated Press. The ruling did not address broader questions about the chemicals used in lethal injections around the country and whether they cause excruciating pain. AP said the ruling “The ruling sets the stage for a nationwide legal battle over that subject.”
Today’s ruling was in favor of Florida death row inmate Clarence Hill, who was strapped to a gurney with lines running into his arms to deliver the drugs when the Supreme Court blocked the execution in January. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said that while Hill and other inmates can file special appeals, they will not be always entitled to delays in their executions. “Both the state and the victims of crime have an important interest in the timely enforcement of a sentence,” he wrote. Lethal injection is the main method used by every state with capital punishment except Nebraska. Nebraska still has the electric chair, although that, too, is being contested.