Ruling on ‘Gruesome’ Execution Case Exposes High Court Rifts (3)


Deborah Denno was quoted in a Bloomberg Law article about lethal injection as a form of capital punishment. The United States Supreme Court cited professor Denno’s 2007 Fordham Law Review article and her 2014 Georgetown Law Journal article on lethal injection.

A Missouri death row inmate with a rare medical condition lost a contentious appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court on April 1, clearing the way for what he warns will be a gruesome execution filled with bursting and bloody tumors.


Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote the 5-4 opinion against Russell Bucklew, reigniting a death penalty feud on the high court that was already in the spotlight recently, after the same majority in February allowed Alabama to execute a Muslim inmate without his imam present.


The Bucklew case further highlights the ideological divide on the court when it comes to capital punishment, particularly in cases where prisoners challenge the government’s preferred method of execution.

It’s a “disappointing decision resting on the majority’s expanded interpretation of the meaning of the ‘alternative-method requirement’ and its continuing focus on policy concerns over constitutional protections for death row inmates,” said Fordham law professor and death penalty expert Deborah W. Denno.


“Directly or indirectly, suspicions over Bucklew’s purported attempt to delay his execution overrides a balanced analysis of his expert’s testimony or his lawyers’ attempts to seek more information in discovery,” she said.


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