The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of a Texas death row inmate who sought to have his pastor “pray over” him and contact him throughout his execution by deadly injection for murdering a comfort retailer employee.
The 8-1 choice received’t spare the life of John Henry Ramirez, however the courtroom dominated the inmate would achieve success in his claims that Texas’ ban on having spiritual advisers in the loss of life chamber unduly burdened Ramirez’s proper to free train of faith and violated federal regulation.
“Ramirez seeks to have his pastor lay hands on him and pray over him during the execution. Both are traditional forms of religious exercise,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the eight-justice majority.
Ramirez, Roberts went on, said in his courtroom filings that “it is part of my faith to have my spiritual adviser lay hands on me anytime I am sick or dying.”
Ramirez’s pastor, in the meantime, agreed that “prayer accompanied by touch” is a “significant part of our faith tradition as Baptists,” Roberts wrote, quoting courtroom paperwork.
“There is a rich history of clerical prayer at the time of a prisoner’s execution, dating back well before the founding of our Nation,” Roberts wrote.
“Congress determined that prisoners like Ramirez have a strong interest in avoiding substantial burdens on their religious exercise, even while confined … Because it is possible to accommodate Ramirez’s sincere religious beliefs without delaying or impeding his execution, we conclude that the balance of equities and the public interest favor his requested relief,” Roberts stated.
Justice Clarence Thomas was the courtroom’s lone dissenter, writing that he doubted Ramirez would succeed “on the merits of his touching claim” and steered the inmate’s authorized filings have been an try and delay his execution.
”The proof that demonstrates Ramirez is bringing abusive litigation to delay his execution additionally strongly means that he doesn’t sincerely imagine that his pastor wants to the touch him in the execution chamber,” the justice wrote.
The Supreme Court blocked Ramirez’s execution, which had been scheduled for Sept. 8, 2021, to permit him time to argue his case.
Ramirez was convicted of stabbing Pablo Castro, a Corpus Christi comfort retailer employee, 29 occasions and robbing him of $1.25 in 2004.