BREAKING: Did SCOTUS Just Bring Back Firing Squads?
The Supreme Court of the United States brought back our right to a firing squad on June 23, 2022. A prisoner on death row in Georgia petitioned the court to be allowed to die by firing squad (legal in some states but not Georgia) instead of lethal injection.
The prisoner, Michael Nance, argued lethal injection created a high risk for pain whereas a firing squad created significantly less risk. The majority opinion in the 5-4 decision was led by Justice Kagen and indicated that Nance’s request was pursuant to his rights under the eighth amendment which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
The dissenting opinion led by justice Coney Barrett (who was joined by Alito, Thomas, and Gorsuch in dissent) argued that Nance was simply avoiding his sentence by requesting death by firing squad. They argued if Georgia had no approved firing squad and that is the punishment Nance chooses, he essentially just delayed his sentence which is a misuse of the law and not the intention of the 8th amendment.
The last person to die by firing squad in America was more recent than you might think. In June 2010, Ronnie Lee Gardner, who murdered an attorney while escaping a federal court house (where he was on trial for murdering someone during a bank robbery). The execution took place in Utah.
Michael Nance murdered Gagor Balogh in 2002 while trying to escape after robbing a bank.