The decision could have a grisly aftermath as it would appear to open the door to a number of executions that have been suspended around the country. Matt Blunt, Missouri's ineffective, lame duck governor declared that execution orders should be reinstated immediately.
The whole matter is a bit bizarre. In Missouri the story took a tabloid turn when it was revealed that a physician administering the so-called lethal cocktail was dyslexic and allegedly transposed dosage specifications. It would be humorous if it wasn't so tragic. Can you imagine how families must feel as judges in black robes deliberate over the level of pain that is justifiable in snuffing out the lives of their loved ones?
The New York Times, in an editorial aptly entitled "The Supreme Court Fine-Tunes Pain," speaks to the swirl of issues that encircle the ruling:
The Supreme Court’s regrettable ruling upholding Kentucky’s use of lethal injection is a reminder of why government should get out of the business of executing prisoners. Rather than producing a crisp decision upholding the constitutionality of lethal injection, the court broke down into warring opinions debating the ugly question of how much unnecessary pain the state may impose.The nonsense that underlies this debate is the reason why the death penalty should be abolished. I am not naive. I know that many brutal and repugnant men and women await their fate on death row. I was personally acquainted with a religious cult leader who was executed in Ohio after murdering five people, including three children. I wrote some reflections about that story in my blog back in 2006. I can't imagine how hard it is for the family of victims. I know that many of them believe that death brings closure and peace. I am persuaded that it does not, because it comes at the cost of brutalizing us all.
The United States is virtually alone in the developed world as a sponsor of state-supported executions. It is time for that to change. As for me, I am on the board of Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty, an organization that recognizes that capital punishment is inequitably imposed, on occasion takes the life of the innocent, and every time it is used diminishes and demeans our society and its values. There is a higher standard to which we should measure ourselves.
This isn't about what dosage of chemicals is most humane in imposing death. It is about the state understanding that the sanctity of life has no exceptions.