Cite as: 591 U. S. ____ (2020)
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
WILLIAM P. BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, ET AL. v.
DANIEL LEWIS LEE, ET AL.
ON APPLICATION FOR STAY OR VACATUR
[July 14, 2020]
The application for stay or vacatur presented to THE
CHIEF JUSTICE and by him referred to the Court is granted.
The District Court’s July 13, 2020 order granting a prelim-
inary injunction is vacated.
The plaintiffs in this case are all federal prisoners who
have been sentenced to death for murdering children. The
plaintiffs committed their crimes decades ago and have long
exhausted all avenues for direct and collateral review. The
first of their executions was scheduled to take place this af-
ternoon, with others to follow this week and next month.
To carry out these sentences, the Federal Government
plans to use a single drug—pentobarbital sodium—that “is
widely conceded to be able to render a person fully insen-
sate” and “does not carry the risks” of pain that some have
associated with other lethal injection protocols. Zagorski v.
Parker, 586 U. S. ___, ___ (2018) (Sotomayor, J., dissenting
from denial of application for stay and denial of certiorari)
(slip op., at 2).
Hours before the first execution was set to take place, the
District Court preliminarily enjoined all four executions on
the ground that the use of pentobarbital likely constitutes
cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth
Amendment. Vacatur of that injunction is appropriate be-
cause, among other reasons, the plaintiffs have not estab-
lished that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their
BARR v. LEE
Eighth Amendment claim. That claim faces an exceedingly
high bar. “This Court has yet to hold that a State’s method
of execution qualifies as cruel and unusual.” Bucklew v.
Precythe, 587 U. S. ___, ___ (2019) (slip op., at 12). For good
reason—“[f]ar from seeking to superadd terror, pain, or dis-