Washington (CNN)Reacting to the news that the Supreme Court will take up a case concerning Oklahoma's lethal injection protocol, the state Attorney General on Monday said he will ask the Justices to temporarily postpone the scheduled execution of three death row inmates involved in the challenge.
Oklahoma to ask Supreme Court to postpone executions
Attorney General Scott Pruitt said that he thought the Supreme Court will ultimately uphold the constitutionality of the protocol, but that while the case is under consideration, he would ask the justices to grant a stay of the executions. "The families of the victims in these three cases have waited a combined 48 years for the sentences of these heinous crimes to be carried out," Pruitt said, but he added that the State has an obligation to "ensure justice in each and every case."
At issue before the court is the efficacy of one of the drugs, midazolam, used in Oklahoma's three drug protocol. Lawyers for the inmates argue that the drug violates the Constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment because the drug fails to maintain unconsciousness.
Nine months ago Oklahoma botched the execution of death row Clayton Lockett using the same protocol.
Pruitt said that he would ask the justices to grant the stay requests until final disposition in the case, or alternatively, until the Oklahoma Department of Corrections is able to obtain a viable alternative drug that is not a part of the pending case.
States across the country are changing their protocols and experimenting with new drugs as it has become more difficult to obtain execution drugs.