Cruel And Unusual Legal Banality

8th_amendment

8th Amendment: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Notice, dear worst-reader, that there are three parts to the 8th amendment of the US Constitution. Is it any coincidence that two-thirds of the amendment is about money and one-third, potentially, about life? If you’re surprised at that then I suggest giving the Constitution a read. Seriously. You’ll eventually be even more surprised when you realise that the US Constitution is about one thing and one thing only–and that one thing is not YOUR freedom. In essence that one thing is… But I digress.

I spent the other night in an insomnia stupor reading the transcript from the April 29, 2015, oral arguments before the US Supreme Court from Glossip v. Gross. It is a case where petitioners are trying to get the Supremes to decide whether or not certain state sanctioned executions by lethal injection adhere to the 8th amendment. For the petitioners, lethal injection is against the 8th amendment because states are using drugs that most likely cause cruel and unusual punishment.

The lethal injection, aka the death cocktail in question, is made of the following drugs: Midazolam, Vecuronium Bromide, and Potassium Chloride. Potassium Chloride, when injected into the blood stream of most living things, stops the heart from pumping in seconds. Which is great. I mean, it works fast and it never fails. The problem is, the living thing that receives the stuff must endure excruciating pain as the drug literally forces the muscles of the heart to convulse and spasm, inducing a massive heart attack.

The second drug is Vecuronium Bromide. This drug causes whatever living thing that receives it to stop breathing by shutting down the involuntary mechanism. This too is quite a painful drug because the recipient will be aware of his or her suffocation.

In order to prevent the cruel and unusual punishment that these drugs cause, an initializing drug is administered. In this case that drug is called Midazolam. It is a nerve depressant. It is mostly used for anaesthesia. According to the transcript that I read, Midazolam cannot cause a patient to fall into a deep coma–which is what is preferred when issuing the other drugs–although it does render the nervous system numb. Because it doesn’t cause a deep coma it is possible a patient, or in this case, a man sentenced to death, might wake up once the pain of the other two drugs hits him. Oh wait. That sounds to speculative. The reality is, just last year exactly that happened while delivering this cocktail to Clayton Lockett.

The drug of choice for putting a man into deep coma and making sure he doesn’t feel anything is Pentobarbital. But get this. America doesn’t have any Pentobarbital. And do you know why? It’s not only that it can’t make the drug, but it can’t get the company that does make it to sell it. The reason for that is simple. Pentobarbital is made in Europe and European law prohibits its sale to countries that have the death penalty. Wow. You shaking your head yet, worst-reader? Well, relax for a sec and let’s have a look at what one of the supremes said.

“Yes. I mean, let’s be honest about what’s going on here. Executions could be carried out painlessly. There are many jurisdictions, there are jurisdictions in this country, there are jurisdictions abroad that allow assisted suicide, and I assume that those are carried out with little, if any, pain. Oklahoma and other States could carry out executions painlessly. Now, this Court has held that the death penalty is constitutional. It’s controversial as a constitutional matter. It certainly is controversial as a policy matter. Those who oppose the death penalty are free to try to persuade legislatures to abolish the death penalty. Some of those efforts have been successful. They’re free to ask this Court to overrule the death penalty. But until that occurs, is it appropriate for the judiciary to countenance what amounts to a guerilla war against the death penalty which consists of efforts to make it impossible for the States to obtain drugs that could be used to carry out capital punishment with little, if any, pain?” -Justice Alito

Yes. Let’s be honest about what’s going on here, Mr. Alito. This is not a constitutional issue. Nor is this an issue about legal writ regarding state sanctioned murder. Instead this is an issue about a dealth-cult-society. It is an issue about a nation-state that kills around the world with impunity in the name of oil and economic control and the unspoken: empire. It is an issue about whether or not a centralised and collective dysfunctional economy can acquire medical drugs so that, in the name of the people and those who rule those people, can kill its citizenry with impunity.

That said, dear worst-reader, yes, I’m against capital punishment. Yet when I read what went down a few weeks ago in what is supposed to be the highest court of the land, I want to cringe and barf and laugh and joke. You’ve got to be fucking kidding me! This is what the judiciary of the United States does? Surprise! It gets worse.

“And I guess, I guess, I would be more inclined to find that it was intolerable if there was even some doubt about this drug when there was a perfectly safe other drug available. But the States have gone through two different drugs, and those drugs have been rendered unavailable by the abolitionist movement putting pressure on the companies that manufacture them so that the States cannot obtain those two other drugs. And now you want to come before the Court and say, well, this third drug is not 100 percent sure. The reason it isn’t 100 percent sure is because the abolitionists have rendered it impossible to get the 100 percent sure drugs, and you think we should not view that as as relevant to the decision that, that you’re putting before us?” -Justice Scalia

Quick note: Justice Scalia and Alito are literally trying to blame someone else for the cruel and unusual punishment that the Oklahoma penal system has inflicted upon another human being. Yes. It is common place today in #americant to blame others for your doings. Indeed.

So. Is it clear yet? What’s going on here? This is most certainly not about the 8th amendment of the united mistakes misunderstood constitution—that relegates life to being only a third as valuable as money (or fines or bail), although some of the arguments posed in the hearing would suggest otherwise. Indeed. This is a discussion as to why/how (sarcasm on) the greatest, most exceptional nation-state in the universe (sarcasm off), is unable to obtain two types of sure proof drugs that establish a deep coma in order that a man can be killed without cruel and unusual punishment.

I don’t know about you, dear worst-reader, but it’s pretty clear to me. The two conservative justices quoted above make it very clear in their arguments that the constitutionality of this issue is irrelevant because “abolitionist” countries are using “gorilla warfare” to sabotage the US’s right to impose the death penalty. In other words, it’s their fault that there may be cruel and unusual punishment. Which also makes it all kind of ironic. Is America exceptional or not? Why can’t America just make the drug? Oh. Yeah. It can’t make the drug because it doesn’t have the right, the patent, to do so. Go figure.

In closing and just so we’re clear on the issue of how stupid this debate is, but how fascinating it was to read the transcript, here’s a suggestion for a constitutional amendment that might help avoid this kinda krapp in the future.

Excessive ignorance imposed on the populace shall not be infringed upon as long as the will to consume and be subjugated is the new American dream. -Tommi’s 28th Amendment

Rant on. -Tommi

Links: Glossip v. Gross (pdf), A Horrorifying Day At Court-Slate.com

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Tom

Just another expat blogger.