Court Rules Against Inmate With Rare Disease

2019

In a 5-4 decision in Bucklew v. Precythe

, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a Missouri inmate, Russell Bucklew, who said that his execution by lethal injection would cause “severe harm and suffering” because of a rare disease. His lawyers say the disease, cavernous hemangioma, would cause prolonged suffocation if he underwent lethal injection. They argued for death by lethal gas.

The majority opinion said that the Eighth Amendment “does not demand avoidance of all risk of pain” during executions. The opinion said that Bucklew did not provide evidence that lethal gas would reduce his risk of pain.