From [HERE] Texas filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] Tuesday against the Food and Drug Administration [official website] to force it to decide whether an impounded shipment of a drug used for executions should be delivered to the Texas prison system, which has carried out more lethal injections than any other state. The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for Southern District of Texas in Galveston. A 1,000-vial shipment of sodium thiopental purchased by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice was detained in July 2015 at Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport. The drug package remains in federal custody with the FDA claiming three legal grounds allowing it to detain the drug and consider its legality. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, in its complaint, claims that the delay is unreasonable. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton [official profile] stated in a press release:
There are only two reasons why the FDA would take 17 months to make a final decision on Texas' importation of thiopental sodium: gross incompetence or willful obstruction. ... The FDA has an obligation to fulfill its responsibilities faithfully and in a timely manner. My office will not allow the FDA to sit on its hands and thereby impair Texas' responsibility to carry out is law enforcement duties.
The FDA has made no statement on this case. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice asked the court to declare the FDA's delay unlawful and compel the agency to decide whether to admit the drugs.
Presently, Texas' death row is 73% non-white [MORE]
The death penalty has been losing traction in recent years. The use of capital punishment in the US is at a 20-year low [JURIST report], according to a December report by the Death Penalty Information Center. Texas, with the highest number of executions out of all the states, has come under fire as the death penalty has become less favorable. The US Supreme Court heard arguments [JURIST report] in November in a case challenging Texas' standard for determining whether a person is intellectually disabled and therefore cannot be subject to capital punishment. More recently, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in December ruled that manufacturers of drugs used for lethal injections may remain anonymous [JURIST report] in Ohio. The lawsuit was brought by death row inmates who claimed that barring discovery that would lead to the identity of such manufacturers unlawfully prevented prosecution against those who administer lethal injections in the state.