LESLIE RUTLEDGE: Wants to take control of drugs from pharmaceutical companies.

Property rights are hallowed to Attorney General Leslie Rutledge only situationally, apparently. She’s announced today yet another national lawsuit intervention, this one to tell pharmaceutical companies that they can’t dictate how their drugs may be used.

The issue concerns drugs used in executions. Pharmaceutical companies don’t want drugs meant to help people to be used in executions. This has led states like Arkansas to obtain them from shadowy sources. A lawsuit by a distributor in Arkansas became hotly controversial when Judge Wendell Griffen said the state had obtained the drugs dishonestly and should return them. This interrupted scheduled executions, a matter that became more controversial because Griffen later the day of his ruling participated in a demonstration against the death penalty. The Supreme Court took Griffen off the case, but a subsequent judge reviewed the same facts and ruled as Griffen did.


The latest is that Rutledge has gone into federal court to see if she can find a judge willing to legislate from the bench and override drug companies.

Her news release:


Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge led a coalition of fifteen states in filing an amicus brief in support of the State of Nevada, arguing the lawsuits continuing to be brought by pharmaceutical companies in order to prevent their drugs from being used to carry out the lawful sentences of execution are meritless.

“The families of these victims deserve justice,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The pharmaceutical companies, such as McKesson and Alvogen, are being pressured by anti-death-penalty advocates to stop supplying the drug to carry out lawful executions. Just as the Arkansas Supreme Court did not rule in favor of these pressure tactics, neither should the Nevada Supreme Court.”

“Lawsuits like McKesson’s or Alvogen’s do not even need to succeed on the merits in order to achieve the desired outcome and prevent an execution. Instead, they merely have to obtain an injunction preventing a state from carrying out an execution on the scheduled date. And that alone might delay an execution long enough that a state’s drugs could expire,” said the states in the brief.

Arkansas is joined in the amicus brief by Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Lawyers for condemned inmates have challenged the efficacy of execution drug protocols. They’ve noted that states have alternatives — such as firing squads — to avoid questions about how the drugs work. But states prefer the “humane” appearance of death by injection, despite multiple botched executions including in Arkansas.