How Lethal Injections Could Change the World

There are few groups of people in this country more oppressed and beleaguered than those who favor good governance. In their earliest moments of youthful naïveté, they aspired to a political leadership that wanted to do things well. After decades of battering, they now aspire to a political leadership that does not actively want to do things badly.

Political candidates cruelly raise and then dash hopes and expectations only to return for subsequent go-rounds of hope and expectation raising and dashing. Prior episodes are dismissed with excuses that would fail to avoid fourth grade detention.

Against this backdrop, a tiny ray of hope has emerged to cheer the oppressed and beleaguered. It comes from the Supreme Court.

In 2008, the Supreme Court heard the case of Baze v. Rees and determined that a three drug cocktail was a permissible form of lethal injection for criminals subjected to capital punishment. In 2014, after the State of Oklahoma botched the execution of Clayton Lockett, the “Baze doctrine” was thought to provide a safe harbor to any governmental unit that chose to fumble virtually any task.

The “Baze doctrine” provides cover for all manner of foolishness done to us by those who pay themselves with our tax dollars to administer foolishness upon us. It enables: all day-to-day activities in the House of Representatives and the Senate; all federal information technology projects; the shenanigans surrounding the Affordable Care Act; and Secret Service men consorting with hookers while out of the country.

So, it was a big deal when the Supreme Court agreed last week to hear the case of Glossip v. Gross. In reliance upon the “Baze doctrine,” correctional officials had decided that it really didn’t matter very much if the recipients of lethal injections flopped around for half an hour to 45 minutes before the poisons actually took hold and put the fellows out of their misery. Glossip v. Gross asks the question: really?

If the Supreme Court seizes this splendid opportunity by saying “no, you don’t get to botch executions just because you are a government,” the oppressed and beleaguered good governance fans might have available a fancy new “Glossip doctrine.” It would stand for the proposition that just because you are a government, you do not have the right to screw everything up.

Not only are you precluded from the “just kidding” defense when your capital punishment victim hangs around for three quarters of an hour after he was supposed to be dead, you are also precluded from things like the rollout, the State of the Union address, political campaigning when you are supposed to be working and laws permitting police departments to buy toys for themselves with the booty stolen from hapless motorists. These are but a few examples. Feel free to add others.

Some of the oppressed and beleaguered in good governance circles favored the idea of shutting up about the possibility of overturning Baze in the hope that those who depend on being insulated from their own stupidity would follow the “Pelosi rule” (we’ll find out what is in the bill after we pass it). According to this theory, the Supreme Court’s Glossip decision would then jump up and bite them in the ass. This line of reasoning was attributed to youthful naïveté.

The more experienced among the oppressed and beleaguered thought there would be more benefit — or at least recreational amusement — to publicizing this threat to government stupidity then sitting around in lawn chairs watching threatened bureaucrats and elected officials file briefs with the Supreme Court defending the right to be dumb.

Little did Mr. Glossip know, when he committed his crime, that his name could define a doctrine that might change the world.

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