From Oklahoma murderer to national martyr

04/30/2014 10:30 AM

04/30/2014 6:58 PM

The state of Oklahoma killed Clayton Lockett on Tuesday night, and this tawdry tale is spinning out as could be predicted across the United States.

The anti-death penalty crowd rightly is stunned that

the state went ahead with its scheduled execution

, using a new combination of lethal drugs that basically didn’t kill Lockett as cleanly or efficiently as expected.

The pro-death penalty crowd is wondering, hey, what’s the big deal: He helped murder a young woman and deserved to die. The grisly death portion was unfortunate, but no big deal, according to them.

But in reality, the biggest takeaway from the — call it what it appears to be — state-sanctioned murder of Lockett is the failure of the court system to ensure that executions are not cruel and unusual punishments.

The state Supreme Court in Oklahoma did not protect Lockett’s rights. In fact, it

kowtowed to political pressure from lawmakers and the governor to pull back from its stay of execution


This is a chilling development. If elected officials can tell the court system what to do — or worse, ignore it — then that’s a loss of one leg of our three-legged stool of government.

The other failing came from the U.S. Supreme Court. It did not take this case or others, including some from Missouri, that are protesting the use of unknown drugs to kill people.

So now Clayton Lockett has gone from a murderer in Oklahoma to a martyr for the cause to either change or eliminate the death penalty in America.

Join the Discussion

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service