Today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of midazolam for lethal injections in death penalty cases across the nation in a 5/4 decision. The majority of justices reached their decision in the face of compelling evidence that the drug causes severe pain and is akin to burning someone alive from the inside out. In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor blasted the majority as reported in the New York Times:
“Petitioners contend that Oklahoma’s current protocol is a barbarous method of punishment — the chemical equivalent of being burned alive,” she wrote. “But under the court’s new rule, it would not matter whether the state intended to use midazolam, or instead to have petitioners drawn and quartered, slowly tortured to death or actually burned at the stake.”
Justice Stephen Breyer, in his dissent, suggested that the death penalty in general may be unconstitutional.