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In Bucklew, Gorsuch Offers Powerful Support to Death Penalty


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The Supreme Court voted in a 5-4 decision Monday to reject the appeal of a man claiming that Missouri's lethal injection protocol would cause him, particularly, to die in an unconstitutionally painful way.

Writing for the majority of the court, Justice Neil Gorsuch authored an opinion that not only rejected the plaintiff's argument, but sharply rebuked abuse of the death penalty appeals process by opponents of capital punishment.

The man at the center of the case is Russell Bucklew, convicted more than 20 years ago for the rape of his ex-girlfriend and the murder of her new boyfriend. Bucklew suffers from cavernous hemangioma, a rare disease which has filled his head, neck, and throat with unstable, blood-filled tumors.

After exhausting other appeals available to him, five years ago Bucklew brought an "as-applied" challenge, arguing that the state of Missouri's intended method of execution, injection with pentobarbital, might cause one or more of these tumors to burst. This could in turn cause him to asphyxiate blood and thereby suffer a needlessly cruel death in violation of the constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.:snip:

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