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Supreme Court Misguided on Lethal Injection Ruling: Reform Jewish Leader


Pelavin: While this particular ruling is deeply saddening, it does not close the door on or diminish our commitment to ending capital punishment.

Contact Sean Thibault or Jonah Perlin
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

Washington, April 18, 2008 - In response to this week's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Baze v. Rees, upholding the practice of lethal injection using a three-drug cocktail as constitutional, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

“We are deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court's ruling effectively ending the de facto nationwide moratorium on the death penalty, and legitimizing the current method of lethal injection practiced in 36 states. This 7-2 ruling comes despite the compelling evidence that many of those being killed through this injection method suffered extreme pain masked by a paralyzing drug.

We do find hope, however, in the dissent of Justices Ginsburg and Souter as well as in Justice Stevens's concurring opinion upholding the lethal drug "cocktail" but explicitly denouncing the use of capital punishment. We agree that the death penalty no longer serves a function in American law. Rather, the ongoing implementation of capital punishment leaves us in the company of only states as Syria and Iran. While this particular ruling is deeply saddening, it does not close the door on or diminish our commitment to ending capital punishment.

As we prepare for the beginning of Passover, the Jewish holiday commemorating the Israelites' journey from slavery to freedom, we are reminded of how blessed we are to be living in America, one of the most free nations in history. However, we are also troubled that America remains one of the only free and democratic nations which continues to engage in state-sponsored executions. As Reform Jews we have long held that capital punishment violates not only the 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment but also the moral ideals of our religious tradition."

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the
Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more
than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership
includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis



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