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Slate: Conservative Supreme Court justices 'just legalized torture' in 'appalling' death penalty opinion

Slate names and shames all of the conservatives on the Supreme Court for this “appalling” opinion, but it’s Justice Neil Gorsuch, appointed by President Trump, who gets all the credit for overturning 60 years of precedent.

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So what’s bugging Slate this week and where does torture fit in?

On Monday, five justices of the Supreme Court authorized Missouri to torture a man to death. In the process, they appear to have overruled decades of Eighth Amendment precedents in a quest to let states impose barbaric punishments, including excruciating executions, on prisoners. The court’s conservative majority has converted a once-fringe view into the law of the land, imperiling dozens of decisions protecting the rights of death row inmates, as well as juvenile offenders. Its ruling signals the end of an Eighth Amendment jurisprudence governed by “civilized standards”—and the beginning of a new, brutal era in American capital punishment.

Russell Bucklew is a death row inmate in Missouri who suffers from a rare medical condition called cavernous hemangioma. Due to this disorder, his body is covered with tumors filled with blood vessels. Tumors in Bucklew’s neck and throat, his lips and uvula, which make it difficult for him to breathe. They are highly sensitive and frequently squirt blood. A medical expert, Dr. Joel Zivot, has testified that if Missouri administers a lethal injection to Bucklew, he will die a slow, agonizing death. His tumors will rupture and fill his mouth with blood, and he will suffocate to death in unbearable pain, choking and convulsing on the gurney as he dies.

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Maybe the electric chair would sidestep those concerns?

The Mercury News reports that “Bucklew was convicted of the 1996 murder in Missouri of Michael Sanders, who was living with Bucklew’s former girlfriend Stephanie Ray. Bucklew fatally shot Sanders at his trailer home, kidnapped and raped Ray, shot at Sanders’ 6-year-old son and wounded a police officer before being apprehended, according to court papers.”

Gorsuch wrote for the court’s majority that “the Eighth Amendment does not guarantee a prisoner a painless death – something that, of course, isn’t guaranteed to many people, including most victims of capital crimes” — nice of someone to think of the pain the victims went through for a change.

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