The Future of Lethal Injection Is Being Debated at the Supreme Court. Read These 6 Stories Now.

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Same-sex marriage is not the only major item on the Supreme Court’s docket this week: Today, the court will begin considering the future of a drug used in lethal injections. The suit, Glossip v. Gross, was brought by three Oklahoma inmates sentenced to death and challenges the use of the sedative Midazolam. The inmates’ lawyers argue that the drug—used in the botched execution of Clayton Lockett, who gasped for air and writhed in pain for a prolonged period as he was put to death—violates the Eighth Amendment’s protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

While only four states currently administer Midazolam, a Supreme Court ruling upholding its use could lead more states to employ the drug in executions. An opposite ruling could make lethal injection, and death penalty execution in general, rarer than it is now. Outlawing Midazolam, one of the few available lethal injection drugs, could leave states without any viable alternatives. Ahead of the oral arguments, read up on Mother Jones‘ best coverage of lethal injection and death penalty issues.