Religion and the death penalty collide at the Supreme Court
The order from the high court follows two years in which inmates saw some rare success in bringing challenges based on the issue of chaplains in the death chamber. This time, liberal and conservative members of the court normally in disagreement over death penalty issues found common ground not on the death penalty itself but on the issue of religious freedom and how the death penalty is carried out. Dunham said most state execution protocols, which set who is present in the death chamber, do not mention spiritual advisers. For most of the modern history of the U.S. death penalty since the 1970s, spiritual advisers have not been present in execution chambers, he said. The Biden administration is still weighing how it will proceed in death penalty cases.
High court orders continued look at Texas death row case
FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2020, file photo the Supreme Court is seen as sundown in Washington. The Supreme Court is telling a lower court to continue to consider a case brought by a Texas death row inmate protesting a policy that means a chaplain cant accompany him into the death chamber. That change came after the Supreme Court halted the execution of another inmate, Patrick Murphy, who requested a Buddhist adviser be allowed in the chamber. By changing the policy, Texas argued all inmates were being treated the same. Gutierrez is on death row for fatally stabbing an 85-year-old woman.
US Supreme Court halts Texas execution over clergy question
The U.S. Supreme Court blocked Ruben Gutierrezs execution about an hour before he could have been executed. The Texas prison system last year banned clergy from the death chamber following a Supreme Court ruling that halted the execution of another inmate, Patrick Murphy, who had requested a Buddhist adviser be allowed in the chamber. Six executions scheduled in Texas for earlier this year were postponed by an appeals court or judges because of the outbreak. Gutierrezs attorneys had also sought a coronavirus-related delay but were turned down Friday by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops has filed a brief with the high court in support of Gutierrez.