Seven of the U.S. Supreme Court Justices today decided that the lethal-injection protocol used in U.S. executions is not “cruel and unusual punishment”. This was not a decision about the constitutionality of the death penalty, but only a judgment of this particular case; indeed, Justice John Paul Stevens, who sided with the majority in this case, also said that he now thinks that the death penalty itself is unconstitutional, notwithstanding this case.
It seems odd, but it’s a quirk of how cases are judged, that a statement that basically means, “Execution’s unconstitutional, but not for the reason you’re claiming,” would be one that agrees to allow executions to resume.
You know what else I find curious, though? There’s this note, from the AP story:
Wednesday’s decision was announced with Pope Benedict XVI, a prominent death penalty critic, in Washington and the court’s five Catholic justices — Roberts, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — headed to the White House for a dinner in his honor. All five supported the lethal injection procedures.
I think the irony here needs no further comment.