The Dangers of Injecting Secrecy into the Death Penalty

The Supreme Court has responded to Oklahoma's botched execution of Clayton Lockett by agreeing to hear the first lethal injection case since 2008's Baze v. Rees, which held Kentucky's lethal injection protocol constitutional. Since Baze, makers and suppliers of lethal injection drugs have increasingly refused to sell their products to death penalty states, forcing the few states that actively seek to execute death row inmates to adopted untested lethal injection protocols. These states have also developed a new tool to ward off legal challenges: secrecy laws barring access to information about lethal injection drug sources or protocols. Are critics right that these laws violate the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments by curtailing the media's access to information, forcing corrections staff to inflict pain on inmates, and violating the due process rights of the executed? Is the use of untested lethal injection protocols constitutional? How do these debates more generally reflect the continued viability of capital punishment in the United States? 
  • Adam Liptak, Supreme Court Correspondent, The New York Times
  • Mark Earley, Founder and Principal, Earley Legal Group; Member, Death Penalty Committee, The Constitution Project
  • Tanya Greene, Advocacy and Policy Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union
  • Megan McCracken, Eighth Amendment Resource Counsel, Death Penalty Clinic, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
  • Katie Townsend, Litigation Director, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

A Briefing on the Marriage Equality Cases

On Friday, April 24, ACS hosted a briefing on the marriage equality cases. In the consolidated cases, the Court is asked to decide whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and whether it requires a state to recognize a same-sex marriage that was lawfully performed out-of-state. Panelists detailed the history of the marriage debate, the range of ways in which the Court could decide the case, and the implications of the decision on the future of LGBT rights. 
The panel discussion featured:
Caroline Fredrickson, President, American Constitution Society for Law & Policy
  • Amy Howe, Editor/Reporter, SCOTUSblog, moderator
  • Steve Sanders, Associate Professor of Law at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law
  • Paul Smith, Partner, Jenner & Block; Member, ACS Board of Directors
  • Sarah Warbelow, Legal Director, Human Rights Campaign