Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said his office will defend the state’s lethal injection procedures when the Supreme Court hears the issue this spring.
The Supreme Court said Friday it would accept a petition from three inmates on Oklahoma’s death row and consider arguments over whether the lethal injection procedure used by the state is constitutional.
In a statement, Pruitt promised “to defend the constitutionality of this protocol” so the state’s Department of Corrections can continue carrying out death sentences.
Oklahoma altered its lethal injection protocol after a botched execution last April. The new procedure, which went into effect in September, calls for five times the dosage of the sedative midazolam that the state had previously planned on using. It was used for the first time last week in the execution of Charles Warner, who was convicted of raping and murdering an 11-month-old.
Attorneys for Warner and three other inmates had argued that the Supreme Court should stay their executions due to the involvement of the drug midazolam, which has cropped up in three problematic executions last year. Four of the court’s justices said they would have stayed Warner’s execution, but they were overruled by the other five justices. However, it only takes four justices to accept a case.
The three inmates who filed the petition with the court are scheduled to be executed in Oklahoma over the next six weeks, with the first execution set for next week. There are currently no pending stay requests for the inmates, Pruitt’s office said Friday, but attorneys for the inmates say they plan to file requests.
The oral arguments are scheduled to begin on April 29, Pruitt said.
“As we prepare to litigate this case in front of the Supreme Court, we must not forget the victims and their families, who have waited a combined 48 years for justice,” Pruitt said.
Related: The recent history of drug shortages and bungled executions that led to the Supreme Court accepting the case.