The ruling opened the door for states to resume the use of lethal injection after a two –year ban, but local legal experts say pending lawsuits in the state could mean a delay in executions.
Other states wasted little time trying to get executions back on track. Almost immediately, Virginia lifted its death penalty moratorium, and Mississippi and Oklahoma said they would seek execution dates for convicted murderers. Other states were ready to follow.
Death penalty opponents argue the chief justices should have aired on the side of caution because they claim executions are cruel and unusual punishment.
"It's like the air has just been let out of a balloon. There's disbelief that the ruling came so quickly, but it goes further than just right now," said Paris Powell, a convicted killer at the Oklahoma State Prison in McAlester. "It's now official that the death penalty is here to stay forever, really."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.