Sep 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court stays execution over inmate's pastor request

A view of the Supreme Court on September 2, 2021 in Washington, DC.

The Supreme Court. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Supreme Court granted a stay of execution on Wednesday night for a Texas inmate who wants his preacher physically by his side praying for him at the time of his lethal injection.

Why it matters, via the Washington Post: "The request by John Henry Ramirez, 37, is the latest conflict over when a death row inmate’s spiritual requests conflict with the security and decorum prison officials say is needed during an execution."

  • The order marks the third time in the past two years that the Supreme Court has halted an execution in Texas execution "over the state prison system's rules on how religious advisers can attend to condemned prisoners as they die," the Texas Tribune notes.

The big picture Ramirez was convicted of the 2008 murder and robbery of Pablo Castro, a 46-year-old convenience store clerk in Corpus Christi.

  • Prison officials rejected his request to have his pastor by his side, praying aloud and touching him when he's executed. His lawyer argues that this is a violation of his First Amendment rights to practice his religion.
  • The Supreme Court issued the order nearly three hours before Ramirez was due to die.

What's next: The court directed its clerk in its brief order to establish a schedule that will allow the case to be argued this October or November.

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