U.S. Supreme Court rules Alabama can proceed with country’s first execution by nitrogen gas

Anti-death penalty activists place signs along the road heading to Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Ala., ahead of the scheduled execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith on Thursday. Facebook Show more sharing options ATMORE, Ala. — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Alabama can proceed with using nitrogen gas to put a man to death, refusing to block what would be the nation’s first execution by a new method since 1982. The state says it will be humane, but critics call it cruel and experimental. The decision clears the way for the execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith — a 58-year-old convicted killer whose 2022 lethal injection was called off at the last minute because authorities couldn’t connect an IV line — this time by using nitrogen gas. Smith’s attorneys had waged an unsuccessful legal battle, arguing that Alabama was trying to make him the test subject for an experimental method. Advertisement Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who along with two other liberal justices dissented, wrote: “Having failed to kill Smith on its first attempt, Alabama has selected him as its ‘guinea pig’ to test a method of execution never attempted before. The world is watching.” The majority justices did not issue a statement. Smith is scheduled to be executed at a south Alabama prison. Officials intend to put a respirator mask over his face and replace the air he is breathing with pure nitrogen gas, causing him to die from lack of oxygen. It will be the first use of a new execution method since the introduction four decades ago of lethal injection, now the most common in the United States. “The eyes of the world are on this impending moral apocalypse. Our prayer is that people will not turn their heads. We simply cannot normalize the suffocation of […]

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