While the word "humane" does appear within the Supreme Court's ruling today upholding Kentucky's lethal injection method of execution, is it biased of Los Angeles Times reporter David Savage to put the term in quote marks in his lede? I'm leaning towards yes.:
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court cleared the way today for executions to resume across the nation, ruling that lethal injections, if properly carried out, are a "humane" means of ending a condemned individual's life.
The court upheld Kentucky's use of lethal injections by a surprisingly large 7-2 vote.
By contrast, here's how the New York Times's David Stout opened his article, set for print in tomorrow's April 17 edition (emphasis mine):
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld Kentucky’s method of putting criminals to death by lethal injection, not only clearing the way for Kentucky to resume executions but also for other states to do so. But one justice predicted that the ruling would not end disputes over lethal injection and could reignite the debate over capital punishment itself.
By 7 to 2, the court rejected challenges to the Kentucky execution procedure brought by two death-row inmates, holding that they had failed to show that the risks of pain from mistakes in an otherwise “humane lethal execution protocol” amounted to cruel and unusual punishment, which is banned by the Constitution.
Savage's print equivalent to air quotes seems to inject personal opinion into the story, whereas Stout's quotation in his second graf quotes from a portion of Chief Justice Roberts's opinion in Baze v. Rees.
What say you, counselors? Let me know in the comments field.
(h/t Steve Dillard)