Madison, Bucklew, Dunn, and Murphy on Capital Punishment at the Margins
The death penalty has long been a moral and constitutional divide in American politics. Like abortion, it invokes deep ethical beliefs as well as constitutional principles. Two major cases and two requests for stays of execution decided this year question the methods of execution as possible violations of the Constitution. Can the state execute someone whose dementia precludes them from remembering the crime or understanding the reasons for their death? Can the state execute someone whose medical condition will cause extreme pain during the procedure? The Court has become increasingly divided between those who are impatient with decades of legal delays in carryout out death sentences and those who believe the current methods of execution violate the Eighth Amendment’s guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment.