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Supreme Court Considers the Constitutionality of Lethal Injection

In 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed states to resume the execution of prisoners. Since then, more than 1,000 inmates have been executed. But execution by lethal injection, which is used by 37 of t

Supreme Court Considers the Constitutionality of Lethal Injection

Tom Fudge : Today, the U.S. Supreme Court hears one of the most highly anticipated cases it will hear all year. It's a Kentucky case called Baze Vs. Rees . In it, two men on death row are arguing the state's method of lethal injection constitutes as cruel and unusual punishment. The case is significant because it's always remarkable when the Supreme Court considers constitutional challenges to the death penalty. The case is meaningful for California because this state's method of execution is also lethal injection. Lethal injection, in fact, is used in nearly every other state that has the death penalty. Only Nebraska still uses the electric chair.

Meanwhile, since late last year, the death penalty in California has been on legal hiatus, thanks to the Morales case. In it, a federal judge ruled that California's method of killing prisoners is unconstitutional. You can bet the people involved in the Morales case will be following today's Supreme Court hearing very carefully.



Gary Gibson, professor at California Western School of Law , and San Diego County deputy public defender.