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Supreme Court to Review Okla. Execution Drug

(CN) - The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge of Oklahoma's lethal injection scheme, just a week after declining to halt one man's execution in a 5-4 vote.

Oklahoma executed Charles Warner, 47, last week after a deeply divided Supreme Court refused to get involved. Warner was the first inmate executed in Oklahoma after the horribly botched lethal injection of Clayton Lockett this past April.

The state unveiled new standards for executions by lethal injection after the Lockett incident, which were approved by both a federal judge and the 10 th Circuit Court of Appeals ahead of Warner's execution on Jan. 15.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor penned a scathing dissent to the high court's refusal to take up Warner's case, saying she was "deeply troubled" by evidence indicating the use of the sedative midazolam is not constitutional in executions. She cited medical expert affidavits filed by Warner and "a number of scientific studies" that suggest the drug does not fully shut off the brain, even in higher doses.

Justices Elena Kagen, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader-Ginsburg joined Sotomayor's dissent.

Late Friday, the high court agreed to review Oklahoma's use of midazolam in the case of three other inmates facing execution in the state. While the order does not automatically halt their scheduled executions, it is unlikely the justices will allow them to proceed before they hear the case in April.

Per the Supreme Court's custom, it offered no comment along with its grant of the writ of certiorari.

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