Heckler v. Chaney

470 U.S. 821, 105 S. Ct. 1649, 84 L. Ed. 2d 714 (1985)

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Heckler v. Chaney

United States Supreme Court
470 U.S. 821, 105 S. Ct. 1649, 84 L. Ed. 2d 714 (1985)

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Facts

Several states used various combinations of powerful drugs to carry out capital punishment by lethal injection. The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had not approved using these drugs for human executions. Larry Leon Chaney and other death-row inmates from Texas and Oklahoma (collectively, the inmates) (plaintiffs) petitioned the FDA to bring enforcement actions against the states. The inmates claimed that states’ use of these drugs in lethal injections violated the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The FDA responded that it did not have jurisdiction to review the use of controlled substances in lethal injections and that even if it did, the agency elected not to do so. The inmates sued Secretary of Health and Human Services Margaret Heckler (defendant), seeking an order requiring the FDA to begin enforcement proceedings against the states. The district court dismissed the case. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed and ordered that the FDA begin an enforcement investigation. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, J.)

Concurrence (Marshall, J.)

Concurrence (Brennan, J.)

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