The Supreme Court this week heard arguments in a case brought by three death row inmates challenging the constitutionality of lethal injection.
As recently as 2008, the justices ruled that the three-drug protocol then in use passed constitutional muster. Those drugs have since become unavailable, and the states have scrambled to replace them, often with disastrous results. Condemned men have died in agony when the replacement concoctions failed to work as promised.
Now the Court is wrestling with the fallout from those gruesome experiments, with the liberals predictably appalled and the conservatives apparently unperturbed. Why justices who are so squeamish about abortion seemingly have no qualms about burning a man from the inside with caustic drugs escapes me, but I’m hardly an expert in the finer points of the law.
Let us not even consider the recent revelation that the FBI Crime Lab condemned dozens of men to death on the basis of sloppy and now thoroughly discredited DNA testing of hair samples. We’ll assume, for the sake of this argument, that everyone convicted of a capital crime is actually guilty and we won’t be wrongly executing a bunch of minorities on the flimsiest of evidence. We’re over that now. That was so 2013. And the police always use the utmost care when arresting Black men. Okay, maybe not in Baltimore, but it’s really not a problem anywhere else, right? But I digress. The case before the Court is narrowly confined to the constitutionality of lethal injection.
Please allow me to offer a simple, elegant solution, one that came to me while binge-watching Game of Thrones on HBO. Forget lethal injection. Cut off their heads.
On Game of Thrones, it’s done with a single stroke of a heavy broadsword. Quick and neat, no fuss, no muss (well, except for a lot of blood spewing from severed arteries and the head possibly rolling across the floor and fouling one’s Guccis). One chop, and it’s done. No lingering in unspeakable agony. There should be no constitutional issue because of unreasonable pain and suffering.
One important detail, though. In Game of Thrones, Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell, insists that he who passes judgement must be the one who carries out the sentence. When we go to the broadsword solution, we should also demand that the judges who pass sentence be the ones who perform the execution. If the Supremes decide that the death penalty is still okay, they should be prepared to swing the sword. I propose that they spend the months the Court is in recess doing executions.
I, for one, would love to see the live telecast of John Roberts beheading a bunch of condemned men, most of them Black, on the steps of the Court, while Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas look on impassively (except maybe for a little smirk by Scalia).
How do you think that would play in Baltimore?