The machinery of death (Economist)
The U.S. Supreme Court has essentially imposed a national moratorium on the death penalty, resting on the question of whether the most common method of execution -- lethal injection -- is "cruel and unusual punishment." The Economist speculates that even if the Supreme Court bans the particular combination of drugs that is currently used, states will simply come up with other drug combinations. This sarcastic (but quite effective) commentary from Wired Magazine disagrees.
It has always seemed strange to me that the question of whether state-sponsored execution is legal rests upon whether the person being executed is in pain right before death. But such is our legal system, for better or worse, sidestepping the larger moral questions to address only the precise details.