The Oklahoma Supreme Court Wednesday evening ruled two convicted murderers’ executions can go forward.
Justices had voted 5-4 Monday to halt the executions — until a legal challenge could be resolved.
Justices on Wednesday ruled unanimously against the inmates on that legal issue and let the executions proceed.
Clayton Derrell Lockett and Charles Frederick Warner are now scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection next Tuesday.
Both complained in February that they need to know who was supplying the execution drugs. They contended they needed the information in order to challenge their executions as cruel and unusual punishment.
Under state law, the identity of the drug supplier is confidential. An Oklahoma County judge in March — ruling in favor of the murderers — declared that law unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court Wednesday reversed the Oklahoma County judge’s ruling, saying the secrecy provision does not violate the inmates’ constitutional right of access to the courts.
Justices noted that “the inmates have been provided with the identity of the drug or drugs to be used in the executions and with the dosages to be injected.”
The ruling Wednesday appears to put an end to what Attorney General Scott Pruitt had called a constitutional crisis.
The Supreme Court had never before in its history blocked an execution. Both Gov. Mary Fallin and the attorney general complained after Monday’s ruling that the Supreme Court had overstepped its constitutional authority.
Normally, in Oklahoma, the Supreme Court handles civil issues and the Court of Criminal Appeals handles criminal matters.
The Court of Criminal Appeals had not blocked the executions and Lockett was supposed to be put to death Tuesday.
Faced with conflicting court orders, the governor on Tuesday rescheduled Lockett’s execution for next week.
Lockett, now 38, was convicted of the 1999 fatal shooting of Stephanie Neiman.
Warner, 46, was convicted of killing his girlfriend’s baby daughter, Adriana Waller, in 1997.
In a strongly worded concurring opinion Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice Steven Taylor called the inmates’ challenge frivolous and a complete waste of the court’s time and resources.
Taylor has repeatedly contended the Supreme Court never should have taken up the inmates’ challenge at all. He contends justices should have sent the issue to the Court of Criminal Appeals.
He wrote Wednesday the inmates had no right to information about where the execution drugs came from.
“If they were being executed in the electric chair, they would have no right to know whether OG&E or PSO were providing the electricity,” he wrote. “If they were being hanged, they would have no right to know whether it be by cotton or nylon rope; or if they were being executed by firing squad, they would have no right to know whether it be by Winchester or Remington ammunition.”
He also wrote: “I hope that this case ends any thought of future journeys down this path that has led this Court to this day.”
The attorney general said the Supreme Court’s ruling Wednesday “affirmed long standing precedent that the source of the execution drugs should remain confidential to avoid these types of schemes and intimidation used by defense counsel and other anti-death penalty groups.”
“These death row inmates have not contested their guilt for murdering two innocent victims nor have they contested their sentences of death. The legal wrangling of the attorneys for Lockett and Warner has served only to delay their punishment for the heinous crimes they committed,” Pruitt said.
Even as justices were ruling Wednesday, attorneys for both prisoners were filing a new legal challenge.
The attorneys argued to the state Supreme Court that the Corrections Department cannot use midazolam, a non-barbiturate, as an execution drug.