The Supreme Court has cleared the way for Arizona to execute an inmate whose lawyers argued that he had a right to know more about how he was to be killed. The court sided with the state against Joseph Rudolph Wood, who could be executed as soon as this morning, reports the AP. The 55-year-old, who murdered his girlfriend and her father in 1989, argued that he had a First Amendment right to know the source of the drugs that would be used to execute him, and to know the qualifications of his executioners.
The court lifted a stay granted by the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals without addressing the First Amendment issue, the Arizona Republic reports. "The secrecy which Arizona fought tooth and nail to protect is harmful to our democracy because it prevents the public, the courts, and the condemned from knowing if executions are carried out in compliance with all state and federal laws," Wood's lawyer said. The issue of lethal-injection drug secrecy has been in the spotlight since a botched execution in Oklahoma earlier this year. Wood's case received more attention after a Ninth Circuit judge wrote a blistering dissent, calling the current capital-punishment system "inherently flawed" and arguing for a return to firing squads. (Read more Arizona stories.)