Texas' high court keeps execution drug supplier secret

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) A supplier of Texas' execution drugs can remain secret under a court ruling that cited a risk of "physical harm" to the compounding pharmacy if the information became public.

The Texas Supreme Court's decision Friday ends a long-running legal battle that began in 2014 over the drugs used in the nation's busiest execution chamber.

Defense attorneys argued that the supplier identity was needed to verify drug quality and spare condemned inmates from unconstitutional pain and suffering.

Texas officials have said disclosing the source would "threaten the death penalty's operation nationwide."

“Today’s court ruling ensures anonymity for suppliers of drugs the State of Texas uses for executions by lethal injection. It is necessary to withhold the identities of these businesses and their employees from public disclosure to ensure their physical safety,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a press release after the ruling.

“The voters of Texas have expressed their judgment that the death penalty is necessary, and this decision preserves Texas’ ability to carry out executions mandated by state law.”

Availability of execution drugs has become an issue in many death penalty states.

The Texas decision only applies to drugs used in a few past executions, since Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law in 2015 making supplier records secret.