Washington – Supreme court The execution of a Texas death row inmate who requested that his priest be allowed to lay his hands on him and pray during his death was halted Wednesday.
John Ramirez, 2004 Corpus Christi department store murderHe asserted that a Texas policy prohibiting a priest from laying hands on him during his execution violated his First Amendment right He practices his religion without interference from the government.
Ramirez was scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. CST. By a one-paragraph order, the court suspended the execution of his sentence and granted his request to consider his case. The court said it would hear arguments on the appeal in October or November.
The case falls within the court’s cross currents that has allowed several executions to proceed, but at the same time has looked favorably upon claims that challenge government policies that burden religious practices.
In February, a majority of court members halted the execution of an Alabama man who was denied the opportunity to have a priest by his side in the execution room. In this case, Associate Justice Amy Connie Barrett He joined the court’s liberal justices in ruling that the state did not adequately justify the policy.
The decision to file the case comes after the court received heavy criticism for a series of rulings on the so-called shadow case of the court, which is being settled without oral argument and on an urgent basis. court allowed Texas law bans most abortions after six weeks It became effective earlier this month and was banned Stop eviction of President Joe Biden During the COVID-19 pandemic – both appeared on the court’s shadow schedule.
Ramirez’s attorney told the court that Texas policy requires the pastor to “stand in his little corner of the room like a potted plant” and that “if he breathes through his mouth, the jailer may declare that ‘the pastor is violating state laws. Politics by “trying to utter forbidden words of prayer.”
Texas officials cited security concerns that the priest touched Ramirez while he was giving the lethal injection.
“Just because a state may not enforce policies that compel an inmate to do what his religion forbids does not mean that it has to comply with all of his religious demands,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told the court in legal papers. “By design, prisons impede inmates’ freedom to act as they like, necessarily limiting some of their religious behaviour.”
Ramirez, 37 years old, was Sentenced to death in 2008 for the stabbing murder of Pablo CastroStore clerk. Ramirez was a 20-year-old kitchen worker when he and two women encountered Castro outside the market in search of money to buy drugs, according to Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Ramirez punched, kicked, and stabbed Castro 29 times with a 6-inch serrated knife. All three left for $1.25.
Ramirez fled to Mexico, where he evaded arrest for three and a half years.
A federal district court in Texas and the New Orleans-based US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied Ramirez’s request.
Contributing: Corpus Christi Kohler Times