Attorneys General Applaud Appeal by DOJ in Execution Drug Case
OKLAHOMA CITY – Fifteen state attorneys general, led by Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt, today expressed support for the U.S. Justice Department's decision to appeal a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Colombia in Beaty v. FDA, et al., No. 11-289 (RJL) (March 27, 2012).
"The decision by the justice department to appeal this misguided decision was the absolute right thing to do,” Pruitt said. “I am pleased that Attorney General Holder heeded our message and responded with this action."
The state attorneys general sent a letter late last month to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to appeal the decision, declaring that if Mr. Holder did not appeal, it would result in a de facto moratorium on lethal injection in states that rely on imported drugs to carry out lethal injection.
The letter was prompted by a sudden reversal in the FDA practice to routinely release imported thiopental to state departments of correction for use in executions, a practice the FDA continued as recently as January 2011. The reversal came after a recent decision in the District Court for the District of Columbia in what is known as the Beaty decision.
The letter stated that the Beaty decision wrongly requires a nationwide change and restriction to access of pharmaceuticals necessary for lethal injection.
“At the very core of the states’ police powers are their powers to enact laws to protect their citizens against violent crimes. As state attorneys general, we are tasked with enforcing those laws, including in instances where capital punishment is authorized for the most heinous of crimes,” the letter stated.
“Implicit in that obligation to our citizens is the need for the means by which to carry out executions. Given that the United States itself utilizes lethal injection as a means of executing federal death row inmates, surely you understand the unfortunate position we have been put in by the FDA’s decision to treat the Beaty decision as a nationally binding precedent.”
Several states are facing shortages of pharmaceuticals necessary to carry out lethal injection.
“As attorneys general, we have a duty to properly enforce our states’ laws and protect our citizens,” Pruitt said. “It was imperative that U.S. Attorney General Holder urge the FDA to appeal the Beaty decision, since it violates federal policy and impairs the ability of states to properly carry out their capital punishment laws.”
Sign-on Letter Beaty.pdf
Beaty Notice of Appeal.pdf