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Supreme Court: Lethal injections constitutional

The Supreme Court voted 7-2 on Wednesday to reject a claim that lethal executions do not offend the constitution, USA Today reported.

The decision ended a moratorium on injections that began last fall.

The two condemned Kentucky prisoners who brought the case before the court said that the common three-drug mix method of lethal injection is a cruel and unusual punishment, and thus violating the Eighth Amendment.

They claimed that the second drug used, pancuronium bromide, masks signs of distress and creates a risk that inmates may be suffering excruciating pain.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said that the prisoners failed to show that the improper injections of the drugs could cause sufficient pain.

The Court outlined a new test for determining whether a method of execution is constitutional. In that test, a petitioner would have to show that the method presented an "objectively intolerable" risk of pain.

In a concurring opinion, Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia argued that a method of execution would be unconstitutional only if it were specifically designed to cause pain. An alternative would have to significantly reduce the risk of pain.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter dissented, saying that Kentucky's lethal injection procedure lacked "basic safeguards" that would make sure the inmate were unconscious and unable to feel pain.

Minnesota is not one of the 36 states that has the death penalty.