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Missouri Injection Protocol Upheld

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In Baze v. Rees, Chief Justice Roberts wrote,

"Justice Stevens suggests that our opinion leaves the disposition of other cases uncertain, see post, at 1, but the standard we set forth here resolves more challenges than he acknowledges. A stay of execution may not be granted on grounds such as those asserted here unless the condemned prisoner establishes that the State’s lethal injection protocol creates a demonstrated risk of severe pain. He must show that the risk is substantial when compared to the known and available alternatives. A State with a lethal injection protocol substantially similar to the protocol we uphold today would not create a risk that meets this standard." (slip opinion at p. 22)

Much of the spin in the immediate aftermath of the decision claimed that Stevens was right and the decision just opened the door to a new round of challenges. But it appears that Roberts was right, as court after court rejects post-Baze challenges and allows executions to proceed. Missouri is the latest, with Federal District Judge Fernando Gaitan, the same judge who halted executions in that state pre-Baze, deciding they can now proceed.

On pages 2-3, the decision quotes the passage from Baze above, rejecting the plaintiffs' complaint regarding qualifications and holds "the [Missouri] protocol now actually exceeds what the Taylor court found constitutional." Here are the beginning and end of the decision:

On June 30, 2008, the Court denied defendants’ Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. However, upon further reflection of the decisions in Baze and Taylor, the Court reconsiders its decision and hereby GRANTS defendants’ Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.
* * *
After further reflection and analysis of the decisions in Baze and Taylor, the Court finds that there are no material issues of fact which remain to be resolved. The revised protocol which the Department of Corrections has now adopted is constitutional on its face as judged by the standards established by the Supreme Court.

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Now, let's hope (a) the Sixth Circuit sees the light and tosses Judge Trauger's decision regarding Tennessee's protocol, (b) the Delaware District Court sees the light and tosses the class action, (c) Judge Frost sees the light and ends his quixotic fight to end "torture", (d) Judge Fogel lifts the stays he has imposed and (e) the federal government gets the stays lifted for five death row inmates.

These courts have interfered with this constitutional punishment long enough. It's time for justice to be done.

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