WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Supreme Court agreed Friday to consider whether a cocktail of lethal drugs used for executions in Oklahoma represent cruel and unusual punishment.
Three inmates on death row in the central state are challenging the multiple drug protocol that was at the center of a botched execution in April last year.
The nine-member court is expected to hear the case in April and come to a decision in June, according to US media reports.
Cruel and unusual punishment is explicitly banned under the US Constitution.
Oklahoma suspended executions after it took an agonising 43 minutes — not the expected 10 minutes — for convicted murderer Clayton Lockett to die after he was given an untested mix of lethal drugs.
Lockett was seen writhing in pain, bucking off the gurney and mumbling unintelligibly.
His execution revived an emotional debate about capital punishment in the United States, where 35 inmates were executed in seven states last year and around 3,000 convicts remain on death row.
Initially, four inmates in Oklahoma challenged the state’s use of midazolam, an anesthetic not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, as one of the drugs used for capital punishment.