President Donald Trump adding two conservative judges to the Supreme Court has already had a major effect on big cases and rulings.
As noted by Fox News, the nation’s highest court on Monday ruled 5-4 that death row inmates do not have a Constitutionally protected right to a painless execution.
The vote was along party lines, so the addition of conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh played a big role in the case.
Here’s more from Fox News:
A Missouri man convicted in a brutal rape and murder can be executed by lethal injection because he is not guaranteed a “painless death,” the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday, quashing Russell Bucklew’s bid to avoid the needle because of his rare medical condition.
In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court granted Missouri the right to proceed with execution protocol for Bucklew, who was sentenced to death for the 1996 murder of Michael Sanders, who was dating Bucklew’s ex-girlfriend. Bucklew had previously assaulted the couple and stalked his former lover the day of the murder in order to find out where she was living. After shooting and killing Sanders, Bucklew fired at his former girlfriend’s 6-year-old child — and missed — before kidnapping the woman and raping her several times. He was eventually arrested after a car chase and police shootout.
“Today we bring this case to a close at last because we agree with the courts below that Mr. Bucklew’s claim isn’t supported by either the law or the evidence,” Justice Neil Gorsuch said in summarizing his majority opinion.
The court previously ruled inmates challenging the method a state plans to use to execute them have to show there’s an alternative that is likely to be less painful.
Bucklew argued death by lethal injection would be extremely painful because a blood-filled tumor in his throat caused by a rare medical condition would likely burst during the execution — causing him to choke on his own blood and cut off oxygen to his body for up to four minutes.
He said this would violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. As an alternative, Bucklew wanted to die by inhaling pure nitrogen gas through a mask, a method no state has ever used to execute a prisoner.
Several prominent media figures noted how Kavanaugh being on the bench played a big role in how the final vote came down.
“SCOTUS’ conservative majority offered a sweeping defense of the death penalty this week, including in cases when an inmate faces risk of extreme pain,” wrote ABC News host Devin Dwyer.