As the U.S. Supreme Court considers arguments from attorneys for two convicted murderers from Kentucky who claim that the three-drug lethal injection protocol used in most death-penalty states can cause excruciating pain, do not be fooled. The same thug-hugging lawyers who complain that a convicted killer Goddess forbid might conceivably feel pain during execution (if the drugs are not administered properly) often are the first to keep doctors out of the execution chamber, because they want the alleged possibility of pain as a legal argument.
That's how much they care about their clients. Or it shows how bogus they know their excruciating-pain argument to be.
Start with the bogus medical argument that the three-drug protocol may cause "excruciating pain" and hence violates the Eighth Amendment protection against "cruel and unusual punishment." In that the Kentucky protocol starts with the administration of 10 times the amount of sodium pentothal needed to start invasive surgery, there is no chance that the other two drugs will cause pain for a convicted killer during execution. And no one has proven that an executed inmate has felt any pain from the three-drug cocktail.
Yes, some politicized medical journals have been willing to publish alleged research that supports the bogus pain argument, but they do so to their own discredit. In 2005, the British medical journal, The Lancet, ran a piece that reported that blood samples taken from executed prisons showed concentrations of the sodium pentothal that "were lower than that required for surgery in 43 of 49 executed inmates." It turns out the samples were taken as long as two days after death, which allowed the drug to dissipate.
Justices David Souter and Stephen Breyer flirted with the notion of having lower courts consider what Donald Verilli Jr., who represented two convicted Kentucky killers, called "the practical alternative" one dose of sodium pentothal, which should be lethal, if slow.
Sure, that's "practical" - for defense lawyers, not the courts. If the justices were to mandate one-drug lethal injection, the big bench could create fodder for more appeals because the only known problematic executions involved poorly inserted needles not the drugs. And there is no guarantee that injections of one drug will be completely problem free.
Justice Antonin Scalia seemed to get it when he commented, "This is an execution, not surgery." As the Washington Post reported, Scalia also asked where the Constitution says that "in the execution of a person, who has been convicted of killing people, we must choose the least painful method possible?"
Ralph Baze, whom Verilli represents, killed two cops serving warrants against him in 1992. He recently told the Louisville Courier-Journal that he won't apologize for the murders he shot the officers in the back in self-defense.
Now, I don't want Baze to suffer when he is executed should that day ever come but there is no reason to expect he would suffer, other than suffering loss of his life.
Which is the whole point.
And until the courts get wise to the anti-death penalty lobby's bait-and-switch, citizens can expect to watch countless dollars fund these dishonest appeals. Sleep safe, America, secure in the knowledge that the safest man in America is a death-row inmate with a pending appeal.