September 26th, 2016
A pharmacy that sold lethal injection drugs used by the state of Missouri to execute 16 people is trying to keep its identity a secret. And on what grounds should execution drug suppliers be free from public scrutiny? The pharmacy claims that selling execution drugs is political expression shielded by the First Amendment.
Buzzfeed’s Charlie McDaniel reports that the drug supplier’s attorneys have filed a motion to block a subpoena about the drug supplier and the drugs. The subpoena was submitted by Mississippi death row inmates, as part of a lawsuit contesting the drug protocol that could be used in their executions.
Attorneys for the pharmacy—known in public records as M7—argue that they engaged in ” … an expression of political views, no different than signing a referendum petition or selling a t-shirt.” OK.
As Buzzfeed explains, the court case being twisted to make their argument is Doe v Reed, a Supreme Court ruling over whether the identity of a petition signer should be kept secret. The Court ruled that revealing a petition signer’s identity does not, for the most part, infringe on their first amendment rights. The pharmacy’s attorneys seem to be banking on the following exception to the ruling: “[T]hose resisting disclosure can prevail under the First Amendment if they can show ‘a reasonable probability that the compelled disclosure [of personal information] will subject them to threats, harassment, or reprisals from either Government officials or private parties.’”
The pharmacy’s argument is that if its identity is revealed they’ll face threats from anti-death penalty advocates. (Actually, anti-death penalty advocates have no history of violence, unlike, say, anti-abortion advocates).
Maybe it’s time for a business plan that doesn’t involve facilitating state-sanctioned murder?