April 1 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a split decision Monday that Missouri can go ahead and execute a convicted killer, despite his argument that a medical condition will make the lethal injection process extremely painful.
The court voted 5-4 along ideological lines against convict Russell Bucklew -- led by Neil Gorsuch, who suggested the death row inmate's argument is nothing more than a stall tactic.
Bucklew was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend's boyfriend and raping her in 1996. His attorneys say he has cavernous hemangioma, a rare condition that causes weakened and malformed blood vessels creates tumors in the nose and throat.
"Those interests have been frustrated in this case," Gorsuch wrote for the majority. "Mr. Bucklew committed his crimes more than two decades ago. He exhausted his appeal and separate state and federal habeas challenges more than a decade ago. Yet since then he has managed to secure delay through lawsuit after lawsuit.
"The people of Missouri, the surviving victims of Mr. Bucklew's crimes, and others like them deserve better."
Writing for the minority, Justice Stephen Breyer said defense attorneys provided evidence that confirmed Bucklew's medical condition and subjecting him to lethal injection would constitute cruel and unusual punishment, which is outlawed by the U.S. Constitution.
"That evidence establishes at this stage of the proceedings that executing Bucklew by lethal injection risks subjecting him to constitutionally impermissible suffering," Breyer wrote. " The majority holds that the state may execute him anyway. In my view, that holding violates the clear command of the Eighth Amendment."
The high court voted 5-4 last year to grant Bucklew a temporary reprieve when Justice Anthony Kennedy was still on the bench. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Kennedy's successor, voted with the majority Monday.