Supreme Court OK’s Resumption of Federal State-Sponsored Murder by Execution

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Supreme Court OK’s Resumption of Federal State-Sponsored Murder by Capital Execution

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.orgHome – Stephen Lendman)

Overnight Monday, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in favor of three federal executions to be carried out this week by painful lethal injections that amount to state-approved death by torture — a crime against humanity and flagrant 8th Amendment breach.

Most nations abolished capital punishment, America the only Western one to continue the barbaric practice in 28 of 50 states, by the federal government and military.

According to the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), “the history of botched lethal injections…raises concern about the humaneness of this execution method.”

Instead of being quick and painless as claimed, time and again it causes prolonged agony amounting to torture.

Capital punishment constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Prolonging it painfully compounds the criminality of the practice.

Strapped into gurneys helpless, death by lethal injection takes from around 20 minutes to over an hour to kill — while victims gasp for air, grimace in great pain, experience convulsions, and can suffer extensive chemical burns.

No just societies permit it. The Supreme Court had an opportunity to banish it to the dustbin of US history once and for all, but went the other way to its disgrace.

Five right-wing extremist justices OK’d state-sponsored murder, the first one already carried out in Indiana by lethal injection, two more scheduled this week — the first federal ones since 2003.  

On July 13, the US District Court for the District of Columbia granted a preliminary injunction that temporarily halted scheduled federal executions. 

It was granted in a case that challenged the proposed lethal-injection protocol, what should have been banned long ago along with capital punishment.

Judge Tanya Chutkan objected to the federal government’s rushed execution schedule, saying:

“The government is entitled to choose dates, but the court cannot take short cuts in its obligations in order to accommodate those dates,” adding:

“The public is not served by short-circuiting legitimate judicial process, and is greatly served by attempting to ensure that the most serious punishment is imposed in a manner consistent with our Constitution.” 

“(T)he court finds that it is in the public interest to issue a preliminary injunction” to delay things.

According to Death Penalty, “(s)tate legislatures and…Congress frequently consider bills addressing death-penalty issues, including legislation to repeal capital punishment, reform it, or expand it.”

In Furman v. Georgia (1972), the Supreme Court banned capital punishment, saying at the time:

“(T)he imposition and carrying out of the death penalty constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.” 

The “harsh, freakish, and arbitrary” practice is constitutionally “unacceptable.”

In Gregg v. Georgia (1976), the High Court reversed its earlier ruling.

Shamefully calling capital punishment not inherently cruel, a perversion of reality, it ruled that the practice is “an extreme sanction, suitable to the most extreme of crimes.”

The ACLU denounced capital punishment as morally reprehensible on “constitutional grounds (for) violat(ing) the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment and the guarantees of due process of law and of equal protection under the law.”

Far too often, innocent victims are wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death, people of color most affected in the US.

No one has a moral or ethical right to take another life, the highest of high breaches of civil and human rights.

Time and again in US courts, beyond a reasonable doubt is just a figure of speech, most often never applying to society’s least advantaged.

In 2000, former Illinois Governor George Ryan declared a moratorium on capital punishment after 13 wrongfully convicted prisoners on death row were found innocent and released.

Days before leaving office in January 2003, he cleared death row, commuting sentences for 163 men and four women to life imprisonment – declaring a moratorium on future executions, saying:

“The facts that I have seen in reviewing each and every one of these cases raised questions not only about (the question of innocence), but about the fairness of the death penalty system as a whole.” 

“Our capital system is haunted by the demon of error: error in determining guilt and error in determining who among the guilty deserves to die.”

Calling the Illinois death penalty “arbitrary, capricious, and therefore immoral,” he ended his gubernatorial tenure by pardoning four men and issuing a blanket commutation for all state prisoners on death row, adding:

“The legislature couldn’t reform it. Lawmakers won’t repeal it, and I won’t stand for it. I must act.”

In January 2011, both Illinois houses voted to end capital punishment. 

Gov. Pat Quinn officially abolished it weeks later, saying it’s impossible “to create a perfect, mistake-free death penalty system.”

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty aims to end the US constitutional breach nationwide and worldwide.

It’s a morally and ethically cruel practice that achieves nothing toward making societies safer — everything toward unjustifiably justifying what’s inherently wrong and unacceptable.

A Final Comment

Dissenting against the majority High Court ruling, Justices Breyer and Ginsburg said the following:

“The resumption of federal executions promises to provide examples that illustrate the difficulties of administering the death penalty consistent with the Constitution.”

In a separate dissent, Justices Sotomayor and Kagan said the following:

“Today’s decision illustrates just how grave the consequences of such accelerated decision making can be.”

“The court forever deprives respondents of their ability to press a constitutional challenge to their lethal injections, and prevents lower courts from reviewing that challenge.”

If I was a Supreme Court justice, my no minced-words dissent would have been much stronger than the above ones with no ambiguity in my remarks.

VISIT MY WEBSITE: (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at

My two Wall Street books are timely reading:

“How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion, and Class War”


“Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity”

Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.