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Baze v. Rees

United States Supreme Court
553 U.S. 35, 128 S.Ct. 1520, 170 L.Ed.2d 420 (2008)


The petitioners in this case were convicted of double homicide and sentenced to death in Kentucky. Kentucky administers the death penalty by lethal injection. Lethal injection protocols in Kentucky require the use of three drugs. The first drug renders the prisoner unconscious. The second drug is administered to prevent involuntary muscle movement and to eventually stop respiration. A third drug then induces cardiac arrest. In the lower court, the petitioners claimed that the lethal injection protocol used in Kentucky constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, because there is a risk that the protocols could be followed incorrectly and thereby result in significant pain for the prisoner. The petitioners presented an alternative method of lethal injection through the use of a one-drug protocol. This method has not been used or adopted by any other state. The court below determined that Kentucky’s protocols for lethal injections do not violate the Eighth Amendment.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Roberts, C.J.)

Concurrence (Alito, J.)

Concurrence (Stevens, J.)

Concurrence (Scalia, J.)

Concurrence (Thomas, J.)

Concurrence (Breyer, J.)

Dissent (Ginsburg, J.)

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