Death Penalty

SCOTUS allows execution of inmate, vacates 9th Circuit decision that he had a right to drug info

The U.S, Supreme Court has lifted a stay that required the state of Arizona to give information about its lethal injection drugs to death-row inmate Joseph Rudolph Wood.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had granted the stay to Wood after he claimed a First Amendment right to the information. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court lifted the stay and vacated the 9th Circuit judgment in a brief order (PDF).

The action paves the way for the execution of Wood at 10 a.m. on Wednesday in Arizona, the Arizona Republic reports.

The 9th Circuit had refused to rehear the case en banc on Monday, spurring a dissent by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski who said the state should prevail but voiced his opinion that firing squads are a better method of execution than lethal injection.

“If some states and the federal government wish to continue carrying out the death penalty, they must turn away from this misguided path and return to more primitive—and foolproof—methods of execution,” Kozinski wrote. “The guillotine is probably best but seems inconsistent with our national ethos. And the electric chair, hanging and the gas chamber are each subject to occasional mishaps. The firing squad strikes me as the most promising. Eight or ten large-caliber rifle bullets fired at close range can inflict massive damage, causing instant death every time. …

“Sure, firing squads can be messy, but if we are willing to carry out executions, we should not shield ourselves from the reality that we are shedding human blood. If we, as a society, cannot stomach the splatter from an execution carried out by firing squad, then we shouldn’t be carrying out executions at all.”

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