Washington, DC – The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday sided with a death row inmate in Georgia who wants to die by firing squad rather than lethal injection.
The justices ruled 5-to-4 on June 23 that the Georgia death row inmate could challenge the method used to execute him under a civil rights law that allows individuals to seek a remedy when their Constitutional rights have been violated, according to CNN.
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan wrote the majority decision for the court.
Kagan wrote that Section 1983 “broadly authorizes suit against state officials for the deprivation of any rights secured by the Constitution,” CNN reported.
“Read literally, that language would apply to all of a prisoner’s constitutional claims,” Kagan wrote in the ruling.
The decision by the nation’s highest court will make it easier for death row inmates to challenge their execution method.
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote the dissenting opinion, CNN report.
Her opinion was joined by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch.
“An inmate can use §1983 actions to challenge many, if not most, aspects of prison administration,” Barrett wrote. “But when a challenge would prevent a State from enforcing a conviction or sentence, the more rigorous, federalism-protective requirements of habeas apply.”
South Carolina voted to bring back firing squads in March of 2021.
The new law passed in South Carolina in 2021 made death by electrocution the default method of death but gave condemned prisoners the option to face three prison employees with rifles in lieu of the electric chair, the Associated Press reported.
The change in the law was prompted by a more-than-a-decade long pause in executions in the state because of the shortage of drugs needed to perform lethal injections.