Constitutional Law

Neb.'s Top Court Bans Electric Chair, Ending Death Penalty ... For Now

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In a 6-1 decision today, the Nebraska Supreme Court held that the use of the electric chair is unconstitutional under state law, effectively imposing a death penalty moratorium since this is the only execution method used there.

The court ruled that the electric chair is cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the state constitution, reports the New York Times.

“The evidence shows that electrocution inflicts intense pain and agonizing suffering,” explains Justice William Connolly, writing for the majority.

Meanwhile, Nebraska’s attorney general, Jon Bruning, pledged to “move to the legislative process to get a new method of execution,” the Times reports. He also says he plans to appeal today’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, reports the Omaha World-Herald.

An effective death penalty moratorium is now in place in a number of states because of the fact that they use a form of lethal injection, combining three chemicals, that is now under U.S. Supreme Court review. However, Nebraska could presumably use another method of legal injection, or even select an entirely different method of enforcing the death penalty, the newspaper notes.

Additional coverage:

Bloomberg: “Nebraska Court Bans Executions Using Electric Chair”

CNN: “Nebraska court bans the electric chair”

ABA Journal: “Tinkering with Lethal Injection” “25th Birthday for Lethal Injections” “TX Prosecutor Cites Execution Moratorium” “ABA Calls for National Execution Moratorium”

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