Late afternoon on July 3 when the least possible number of people would be paying attention, using a new law that makes the acquisition of execution drugs a state secret, Georgia scheduled the execution of Warren Hill, who is now set – barring intervention from the US Supreme Court or the Georgia Attorney General – to be put to death on July 15.
Georgia authorities did this despite the fact that:
- The victim’s family opposes the execution
- Several jurors from the trial now object to the execution
- All 7 doctors who have examined him now agree that Hill is intellectually disabled
- The US Supreme Court banned execution of the intellectually disabled in 2002
- A petition on that very issue is currently pending at the Supreme Court, scheduled to be considered on September 30, roughly 6 weeks after Warren Hill is executed
- If the execution is carried out, it will be over the objections of whatever companies manufacture whatever drugs Georgia officials have secretly acquired
To sum up: in scheduling this execution, Georgia authorities have managed to display contempt for victims’ families, jurors, doctors, health care companies, and even Georgia taxpayers, who now are not allowed to know how their money is being spent on the most awesome power a state can wield.
These actions are doubly disdainful of the US Supreme Court. Refusing to wait until September, Peach State officials are planning an execution even though the High Court has a petition pending, and even though the execution would flout a landmark Supreme Court ruling. One hopes the Supreme Court will not stand for this.
When a state has the power of life and death, particularly if that power can be exercised with unaccountable secrecy, it can create a kind of arrogance that might be the source of the Georgia government’s contemptuous actions here. So it is more important than ever that the rest of us, including the tax-paying citizens of Georgia, redouble our efforts to take that power away.