TIME Laws

Kansas Tattoo Parlors Say Nobody’s Getting Inked on Welfare Checks

Gov. Sam Brownback signs a welfare reform bill into law in Topeka, Kan. on April 16, 2015.
Orlin Wagner—AP Gov. Sam Brownback signs a welfare reform bill into law in Topeka, Kans., on Apr. 16, 2015.

A new law also restricts welfare spending on lingerie, concert tickets and psychics

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed into law Thursday some of the country’s strictest prohibitions on where welfare money can and can’t be spent. For needy families in the Sunflower State, concerts are out. Casinos: out. Lingerie: out. Fortune tellers: out. The law lists more than two dozen products or businesses that are now off-limits.

But owners and operators of a half-dozen Kansas psychics, lingerie stores and tattoo parlors, in which poor families are now restricted from spending cash assistance from the state, all say essentially the same thing: patrons aren’t using welfare in here anyway.

“I’ve never seen anybody try that,” says Aimee Teets, a receptionist at Aftershock Tattoo Co., in Olathe, Kan. Teets says some pre-loadable cards aren’t even accepted at her business, so it’s possible that a benefits card from the state would’ve been denied even before the law was passed.

According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 23 states have passed restrictions on state benefit cards in attempts to prevent purchases on items like alcohol and gambling. The law signed in Kansas Thursday is believed to be among the most restrictive in the U.S.

But according to studies, most welfare recipients appear to be spending a majority of their money on basic necessities. According to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, a vast majority of families on public assistance spend that money on housing, food and transportation. Only a small percentage goes to expenses like entertainment.

The Associated Press also cites a 2014 federal report looking at eight states’ welfare transactions showing that spending on liquor stores, casinos and strip clubs made up less than 1% of the total.

Liz Bartlett, a sales associate at lingerie store Clair de Lune in Overland Park, Kan., says she’s never been aware of anyone using welfare money on purchases at the store. Tattooists who spoke to TIME agreed. “I’ve never heard of anything like that,” says Jim, the general manager of The Mercy Seat who refused to give his last name. “But we’re cash only anyway.”

That still poses a problem for state officials hoping to keep welfare monies in check. The new law allows people to withdraw $25 a day, and the state can’t easily control where it’s spent.

“The purchases may be declined if an EBT card is used,” says Theresa Freed, a spokesperson for the Kansas Department for Children and Families. “If [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] cash funds are withdrawn from an EBT card, it is very difficult to track the use of those funds.”

TIME politics

How Terri Schiavo Shaped the Right-to-Die Movement

Terri Schiavo
Matt May / Getty Images A family photo of Terri Schiavo, taken at Terri's hospital bed in 2003 in Gulfport, Fla., as seen on a protester's sign.

The question of the role of government in end-of-life decisions still resonates 10 years later

Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Death With Dignity National Center kept an office in Washington, D.C. For years, Republican lawmakers tried to pass legislation nullifying Oregon’s 1997 Death With Dignity Act, which allowed terminally ill patients to obtain life-ending medication. The legislation never made it out of the Senate, but it eventually passed in the Republican-controlled House, and the aid-in-dying organization felt compelled to keep pressure on Congress to stop the bill. Then came Terri Schiavo.

Ten years ago, Schiavo—a severely brain-damaged Florida woman—became a national symbol for how not to die in America. At its heart, the case was a family squabble. Schiavo had been kept alive by a feeding tube after collapsing in 1990 from full cardiac arrest that deprived her brain of oxygen. Multiple doctors diagnosed her as being in a persistent vegetative state. Her husband Michael Schiavo argued that his wife would never have wanted to live like that and attempted to get the feeding tube removed. Her parents disagreed and fought to keep her alive.

MORE: How Canada’s Right-to-Die Ruling Could Boost Movement in U.S.

Schiavo’s case languished inside courtrooms for years. Jeb Bush, who was Florida’s governor at the time and is now a likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate, signed “Terri’s Law” in 2003 to reinsert her feeding tube after courts had ordered it taken out. Congressional legislators attempted to diagnose her on the Senate and House floors without having seen her in person. It all culminated with President George W. Bush cutting short a vacation at his ranch in Texas to fly back to Washington to sign a bill that would allow Schiavo’s case to be heard in federal courts.

Eventually, the courts agreed with Michael and allowed her feeding tubes to be removed. After Schiavo died on March 31, 2005, Congress all but stopped trying to pass a law banning aid in dying, says Death With Dignity National Center Executive Director Peg Sandeen, and the group eventually packed up its Washington, D.C., office and took its fight to the states to try to legalize it. A majority of Americans seemed to say that in a relationship involving physicians and families, politicians should steer clear. According to a TIME poll taken in 2005, 70% of respondents said they disapproved of the president’s role in the issue and 54% said they would be more likely to vote against their representative in Congress if he or she sided with the president. Congress appeared to have gotten the message, and aid-in-dying organizations eventually stopped worrying about the practice being outlawed at the federal level.

“The will of the people was not for the government to intervene in end-of-life decisions,” Sandeen tells TIME. “When [Sen.] Trent Lott and [Senate Majority Leader] Bill Frist are on the floor diagnosing her, not having ever looked at her as a patient, I think America said, ‘Enough is enough.’”

People associated with the aid-in-dying movement today say that the Terri Schiavo case was a turning point for Americans thinking about their own end-of-life decisions. While Schiavo’s situation was an extreme outlier, her case ultimately brought into question the government’s role in end-of-life choices altogether.

“A lot of people saw the Schiavo case and said, ‘I don’t want to end up like that. I don’t want to get trapped,’” says Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University. “It scared people.”

MORE: More States Considering Right-to-Die Laws After Brittany Maynard

In the months following Schiavo’s death, there was a spike in national interest in written advance directives — documents that instruct family members on what to do in end-of-life situations — says Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices, an aid-in-dying advocacy organization. The news also sparked a discussion about the benefits of prolonging life at all costs.

Prior to Schiavo’s case, the person most associated with aid in dying was Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan doctor who performed dozens of assisted suicides and was eventually convicted for second-degree murder. If Kevorkian showed the darker side of individual end-of-life decisions, Schiavo showed a side in which not making those choices can mean an individuals’ ultimate fate ending up in the hands of feuding family members, judges and legislators.

“One of the American people’s greatest fears is that someone other than themselves will make these decisions,” says Coombs Lee. “This isn’t political or partisan, it’s personal. And that was the first time people realized how intrusive government could actually be.”

Ten years later, there’s renewed interest in end-of-life choices thanks to Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old newlywed who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and moved from California to Oregon to take advantage of the state’s physician-assisted suicide law. Maynard died Nov. 19, 2014, after ingesting barbiturates given to her by a doctor. In the last several months, more than half of all U.S. states have either introduced end-of-life legislation or signaled they would do so.

Most polls today show that about seven in 10 Americans support the idea that state and federal governments should allow people to make end-of-life choices for themselves, something Schiavo’s story made clear a decade ago.

“The lesson,” Coombs Lee says, “is that death is not the worst thing that can happen to you.”

Read TIME’s 2005 cover story about the battle over Terri Schiavo, here in the archives: The End of Life: Who Decides?

TIME LGBT

Fight Over Religious-Objection Proposals Shifts to Arkansas

Arkansas is poised to become the second state this year to enact a proposal critics say discriminates against LGBTs

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — The fight over “religious freedom” proposals facing increasing criticism from businesses and advocates who call them a license to discriminate against gays and lesbians has shifted toward Arkansas, which was poised to become the second state this year to enact such a measure.

A final vote could come as early as Tuesday in the state House on the proposal that would prohibit state and local government from infringing on someone’s religious beliefs without a “compelling” reason. Unlike Indiana — where Republicans were working on adding language to clarify the state’s recently enacted law after a firestorm of protests — Arkansas lawmakers said they weren’t seeking to modify the measure.

“There’s not really any place to make any changes now,” Republican Rep. Bob Ballinger of Hindsville said about his proposal. “If there are questions in two years we can fix it.”

Hundreds of protesters filled Arkansas’ Capitol to oppose the measure, holding signs that read “Discrimination is not a Christian Value” and “Discrimination is a Disease,” and chanting “Shame on You” at Ballinger after the measure was endorsed by a House committee.

“I believe that many people will want to flee the state and many people will want to avoid our state,” said Rita Jernigan, a protester and one of the lead plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging Arkansas’ gay marriage ban. “I think it will hit us hard everywhere. I feel like we’re moving backwards rather than being a progressive state.”

The protests echo the backlash in Indiana, where Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a similar bill into law last week. Some companies and organizations have canceled future travel to Indiana or halted expansion plans in the state, and Republican legislative leaders said they are working on adding language to Indiana’s law to make it clear that the measure does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Similar proposals have been introduced in more than a dozen states, patterned after the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. Nineteen other states have similar laws on the books.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who had expressed reservations about unintended consequences of an earlier version of the bill, has said he’ll sign the current measure into law.

“If this bill reaches my desk in similar form as to what has been passed in 20 other states then I will sign it, but I am pleased that the Legislature is continuing to look at ways to assure balance and fairness in the legislation,” Hutchinson said in a statement Monday.

Sexual orientation and gender identity are not included in Arkansas’ anti-discrimination protections. Last month, Hutchinson allowed a measure to go into law that prevented local governments from including such protections in their anti-discrimination ordinances.

Opponents of the bill hoped to target Hutchinson’s promise to be a “jobs governor” made during his successful bid last year for the state’s top office. The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights group, has run ads in Silicon Valley aimed at the same technology firms Hutchinson has said he wants to lure to Arkansas.

Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post over the weekend opposing the Arkansas and Indiana measures, while retail giant Wal-Mart has said the proposal sends the wrong message about its home state. Little Rock-based data services company Acxiom also urged Hutchinson to veto the bill, saying the measure would enable discrimination and open the state up to ridicule.

“This bill is at direct odds with your position that ‘Arkansas is open for business,'” CEO Scott Howe and Executive Vice President Jerry C. Jones wrote Monday in a letter to the governor.

In Indiana, the fallout has ranged from the public-employee union known as AFSCME canceling a planned women’s conference in Indianapolis this year because of the law to the band Wilco saying it was canceling a May performance.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued an open letter to Indiana corporations saying Virginia is a business-friendly state that does “not discriminate against our friends and neighbors,” while Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sent letters to more than a dozen Indiana businesses, urging them to relocate to a “welcoming place to people of all races, faiths and countries of origin.”

TIME

This British Politician Wants To Legalize Discrimination

United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage addresses supporters and media personnel in central London on March 4, 2015.
Leon Neal—AFP/Getty Images United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage addresses supporters and media personnel in central London on March 4, 2015.

The UK Independence Party leader said he would get rid of anti-discrimination legislation.

Nigel Farage’s controversial remarks came during the filming of a documentary “Things We Won’t Say About Race That Are True,” BBC reports.

“If I talked to my children… about the question of race, they wouldn’t know what I was talking about,” he said, arguing that laws intended to prevent racial discrimination in the workplace “would probably have been valid” 40 years ago, but no longer. Accordingly, he would get rid of “much of” the current legislation.

Farage said his comments were misinterpreted and that he was talking about nationality, not race. He clarified, “What I said was that I do believe there should be a presumption for British employers in favor of them employing British people as opposed to somebody from Poland.”

[BBC]

TIME Drones

How to Defend Against Drones

The U.S. is unprepared to deal with the proliferation of unmanned aircraft now filling the skies.

  • Regulation

    There are many drone no-fly zones around the world, and most operators respect them—but not always. After a drone strayed into White House airspace recently, its maker modified its flight software to ground its products in and around Washington. Experts concede that a determined intruder can get around such precautions.
    Illustration By Jameson Simpson For TIME

    There are many drone no-fly zones around the world, and most operators respect them—but not always. After a drone strayed into White House airspace recently, its maker modified its flight software to ground its products in and around Washington. Experts concede that a determined intruder can get around such precautions.

  • Detection

    To stop a drone, you have to know it's there. A growing number of companies are installing acoustic sensors that listen for the sound of a drone. They are found at sensitive government locations and the estates of celebrities who are leery of airborne paparazzi, but the sensors are confused by other contraptions, like Weedwackers. And they can't do anything to stop intrusions.
    Illustration By Jameson Simpson For TIME

    To stop a drone, you have to know it’s there. A growing number of companies are installing acoustic sensors that listen for the sound of a drone. They are found at sensitive government locations and the estates of celebrities who are leery of airborne paparazzi, but the sensors can be confused by other contraptions, like Weedwackers. And they can’t do anything to stop intrusions.

  • Jamming

    A drone on a nefarious mission needs to be guided, either by GPS signlas or radioed commands from its operator. Electronic jamming can serve those links and doom the mission or even give authorieis control of the drone. But such jamming is usually illegal because it ingerferes with communications ranging from cell phones to airlines.
    Illustration By Jameson Simpson For TIME

    A drone on a nefarious mission needs to be guided, either by GPS signals or radioed commands from its operator. Electronic jamming can serve those links and doom the mission or even give authorities control of the drone. But such jamming is usually illegal because it interferes with communications ranging from cell phones to airlines.

  • Destruction

    Drones tend to be slow-flying and unarmed, which makes them relatively easy to shoot down. But experts fear that future unmanned aircraft could be armed and nimble, like the military's fast, low-flying cruise missiles, making them much harder to detect and destroy.
    Illustration By Jameson Simpson For TIME

    Drones tend to be slow-flying and unarmed, which makes them relatively easy to shoot down. But experts fear that future unmanned aircraft could be armed and nimble, like the military’s fast, low-flying cruise missiles, making them much harder to detect and destroy.

TIME Laws

Alabama’s ‘Ten Commandments Judge’ Defies the Feds Over Gay Marriage

Roy Moore
Rogelio V. Solis—AP Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court addresses a Pro-Life Mississippi and a Pastors for Life pastors luncheon in Jackson, Miss., Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. Moore told the attendees that he cannot separate his faith from his job as chief justice and continues to oppose abortion and same-sex marriage.

Roy Moore has a history of defying federal orders

On Sunday, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore told the state’s probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, an order defying a ruling last month by a federal judge that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

A state judge refusing to follow federal orders is rare. But for Moore, it would’ve been more unusual if he went along with the decision quietly.

Judge Moore is often known as the “Ten Commandments Judge.” When Moore, a devout Christian who often relies on Biblical scripture in his rulings, began his judicial career as an Alabama circuit court judge in the 1990s, he placed a Ten Commandments tablet he had carved himself behind his courtroom bench and began instituting prayer before jury selection.

Soon enough, the American Civil Liberties Union sued Moore for violating the Constitution’s Establishment Clause in the First Amendment. In 1996, a Montgomery County circuit judge ruled that prayer in the courtroom was unconstitutional and later ordered that the Ten Commandments display either be removed or placed alongside secular documents like the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. To that, Moore responded: “I will not surround the Ten Commandments with other items to secularize them. That’s putting man above God.”

But Moore eventually won out. In 1998, the Alabama Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuits, and the commandments stayed. And Moore’s popularity, thanks to his conservative defiance, skyrocketed. Two years later, he was elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

In 2001, Moore again made national news when he issued an opinion in the case D.H. vs. H.H., a custody battle between a lesbian and her ex-husband who she said was abusive. In his concurring opinion, Judge Moore ruled for the ex-husband, saying that the woman’s sexual orientation was grounds enough to prevent her from taking custody of the children.

A year later, Moore resurrected the Ten Commandments debate when he had a 5,200-lb. granite Ten Commandments monument commissioned and placed inside the Alabama State Judicial Building. Two lawsuits were filed, and by August 2003, a federal judge ordered the monument removed. Again, Moore refused, forcing his fellow justices to remove it instead and sparking thousands of protesters to rally in support of Moore outside the state judicial building. But they weren’t able to save his job. Later that year, a state judicial panel removed Moore from his post as chief justice.

In the years following, Moore unsuccessfully ran for Alabama governor twice and in 2012 was re-elected chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court. “I have no doubt this is a vindication,” Moore said after his election. “Go home with the knowledge that we are going to stand for the acknowledgment of God.”

Moore’s latest tenure has been relatively quiet until this week. His latest attempts to ignore federal orders and block the state from handing out marriage licenses to gay couples, while extraordinary for other justices, is natural for a judge with a history of judicial defiance. But this time, Moore appears to be experiencing the kind of resistance he’s sown for years.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would allow same-sex marriages to move forward, and most judges appeared to be following suit — defying a state judge who has made judicial disobedience his defining characteristic.

 

TIME Laws

How Canada’s Right-to-Die Ruling Could Boost Movement in U.S.

Lee Carter embraces her husband Hollis Johnson while speaking to journalists at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa on Feb. 6, 2015.
Chris Wattie—Reuters Lee Carter embraces her husband Hollis Johnson while speaking to journalists at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa on Feb. 6, 2015.

Advocates say Supreme Court ruling could give momentum to U.S. states considering so-called 'death with dignity' bills

The Canadian Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision Friday that will allow physicians to provide life-ending medication to terminally ill patients.

The court ruled in part that banning a right to die in fact “deprives some individuals of life, as it has the effect of forcing some individuals to take their own lives prematurely, for fear that they would be incapable of doing so when they reached the point where suffering was intolerable.”

The groundbreaking 9-0 decision, which makes Canada one of just a handful of states to allow some form of “aid in dying,” comes as states in the U.S. consider allowing the practice for mentally competent patients with terminal illness. So-called death with dignity advocates said Friday that the decision by the U.S.’s northern neighbor could increase momentum across the border.

MORE: Death is Not Only for the Dying

“I think it will have a significant impact in the U.S.,” says Barbara Coombs-Lee, president of Compassion & Choices, a death with dignity advocacy group. “This isn’t happening in a far-off country. It sends a strong message throughout the continent.”

The “aid in dying” movements in Canada and the U.S. have similar histories. Both began around the late 1980s and early 1990s, and both have tried to achieve policy reforms through the courts and at the state or provincial level. But Friday’s Canadian court decision, which allows the practice nationwide, is a significant breakthrough for death with dignity advocates in Canada. It remains an unlikely scenario in the U.S., however, where reforms will likely come at a state level.

Peg Sandeen, executive director of the Death With Dignity National Center in the U.S., says she believes the court’s decision “will have a tremendous positive effect on a state-by-state level,” but that policy changes will continue to happen outside of Washington. The issue hasn’t gained much traction in Congress, and the Supreme Court isn’t likely to take up the issue anytime soon.

MORE: Why a Young Woman With Brain Cancer Moved to Oregon to Die

But there is considerable progress at the state level.

End-of-life practices are legal in Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Vermont, while legislation has been introduced in California, Colorado, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Wyoming, plus the District of Columbia. Coombs-Lee says it’s being considered in some form in 25 states.

The movement began making significant strides thanks to the widely publicized story of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old newlywed with brain cancer who moved from California to Oregon, which is just one of five states that allow terminally ill patients to obtain life-ending medication.

One state that aid-in-dying advocates are currently watching closely is New York, where terminally ill patients recently filed a lawsuit that would allow the practice. State lawmakers are also reportedly considering introducing a death with dignity bill. But any sort of movement in U.S. federal courts like what happened in Canada will likely only occur once there’s more progress at the state level.

“I think a federal constitutional protection could be acknowledged at some point,” says Coombs-Lee, “but only after there is already a critical mass of states where it is already authorized.”

The Canadian decision struck down laws that banned doctors from participating in ending a patient’s life and reversed an earlier Supreme Court ruling, saying that current bans violated rights of life, liberty and security as protected by the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Last year, Quebec passed right-to-die legislation, making it the only Canadian province to allow the practice.

TIME Laws

Arkansas Will Carry On Celebrating Robert E. Lee Day On MLK Day

Dewey Spencer
Danny Johnston—AP Dewey Spencer, of Judsonia, Ark., holds a portrait of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee after a meeting of the House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, at the State Capitol in Little Rock, Ark.

A bill would've moved the commemoration of the Confederate general to November

Arkansas will continue marking the memory of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on the same date as the nation remembers civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., after a proposal to remove Lee from the Jan. 19 holiday met opposition from state lawmakers.

An Arkansas House committee rejected a proposal on Wednesday to designate Nov. 30 as “Patrick Cleburne – Robert E. Lee Southern Heritage Day,” giving the Confederate general a separate memorial day from the one celebrating King. (Cleburne was a local Confederate general.)

Opponents of the bill said removing Lee from the Jan. 19 holiday would disparage their Southern roots.

(MORE: One Man. One Speech. One Dream)

Arkansas has commemorated Lee every year since the 1940s, but only began celebrating the two holidays on the same day in the 1980s. The state recently faced backlash to the conflated holiday after being widely criticized on social media.

[AP]

TIME States

Indiana Governor Cancels Plans for State-Run News Site

Mike Pence
Michael Conroy—AP Indiana Gov. Mike Pence plans to launch what would amount to a state-run, taxpayer-funded news outlet in February. But on Wednesday, he appeared to back away from plans to unveil the site.

Taxpayer-funded 'Just IN' would feature news stories and profiles written by press secretaries

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has dropped plans to launch a communications site that was widely criticized as a state-run, taxpayer-funded news outlet.

Pence, a Republican, had planned to launch “Just IN,” a website that would include stories written by press secretaries and was described in internal memos as competing with other media outlets, the Indianapolis Star reported. The range would include hard news stories and “lighter features, including personality profiles.”

“At times, Just IN will break news—publishing information ahead of any other news outlet,” said one internal memo. “Strategies for determining how and when to give priority to such ‘exclusive’ coverage remain under discussion.”

(MORE: Indiana Drops Common Core Education Standards)

On Wednesday, Pence appeared to distance himself from the site, telling local radio station WIBC-FM: “As governor I can assure you that (the plan) did not meet my expectations and if this website doesn’t meet my expectations of respecting the role of a free and independent press, I will reject it.”

Indiana House Democrats announced Thursday that they would attempt to block funding for the site, and Pence later announced he wouldn’t launch it.

“However well intentioned, after thorough review of the preliminary planning and careful consideration of the concerns expressed, I am writing you to inform you that I have made a decision to terminate development of the JustIN website immediately,” Pence wrote to several state agencies.

(MORE: 8 Long-Shot Republicans Who Are Running for President)

TIME Courts

Supreme Court Delays Executions for 3 Oklahoma Inmates

The Supreme Court
James P. Blair—Getty Images

State is temporarily barred from using controversial sedative

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday delayed the execution of three Oklahoma death row inmates who are part of a case that could decide the future of lethal injections nationwide.

The court’s order prevents Oklahoma from using the sedative midazolam to execute Richard Glossip, John Grant and Benjamin Cole, who are challenging the state’s current lethal injection protocol. The trio claims that the use of midazolam, which has been criticized by some anesthesiologists as not properly inducing unconsciousness, violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Glossip, who was convicted of having his boss murdered, was set to be executed Thursday. Grant, who was convicted of stabbing a co-worker to death, was scheduled to be executed in February. And Cole, handed a death sentence for killing his 9-month-old daughter, was initially set to be executed in March.

MORE: Justices Will Review Use of Midazolam as Execution Drug

Because the Supreme Court’s order specifically prevents Oklahoma from executing the men with midazolam, it’s possible but unlikely that the state will try to use a different drug to carry out their death sentence before the court rules in their case.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case last week, making it the first time the court will consider whether a specific method of capital punishment violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment since Baze v. Rees in 2008. That decision upheld Kentucky’s three-drug lethal injection protocol. Since then, drug shortages have forced states to use different drugs, including midazolam.

All eyes have been on Oklahoma’s execution protocol since last April, when the lethal injection of a convicted killer went awry. The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision by the end of June.

Read more: Ohio Abandons Controversial Drug Execution Cocktail

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