University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform
death penalty; firing squad; execution methods; Eighth Amendment; Supreme Court
This Article does not address the medical debate surrounding the role of midazolam in executions; the problems associated with using the drug have been persuasively argued elsewhere. Nor does it question the soundness of the Glossip Court’s “alternative method of execution” requirement. Rather, this Article’s proposed reform is a constitutionally acceptable alternative that meets the Glossip Court’s standard, rendering moot—at least for the purposes of the following discussion—very real concerns regarding the validity of that dictate. Part I of this Article pinpoints several areas where the Glossip Court goes wrong in glaringly inaccurate or misleading ways, given the vast history and literature on execution methods and their changes from the nineteenth century through the start of the twenty-first century. Part II analyzes the Court’s “known and available alternative method of execution” standard as defined by both the majority opinion and Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent. Part III proposes that the firing squad is the most viable “known and available alternative” that meets the delineations, however meager, outlined by the Court. Indeed, the firing squad is the only current form of execution involving trained professionals, and it delivers a swift and certain death.
Deborah W. Denno,
The Firing Squad as "A Known and Available Alternative Method of Execution" Post-Glossip, 49 U. Mich. J. L. Reform 749
Available at: https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/faculty_scholarship/696