Friday, February 08, 2019

SCOTUS vacates CA11 stay of execution

One of the most conservative judges on arguably the most conservative appellate court in the country granted a stay of execution this week because the Muslim inmate was denied his request to have an imam at his side in the execution chamber, even though the prison would allow a Christian chaplain to be present in the chamber. The very next day, an even more conservative Supreme Court lifted the stay and allowed the execution to go forward in a 5-4 decision.

Justice Kagan explains in her dissent:
To justify such religious discrimination, the State must show that its policy is narrowly tailored to a compelling interest. I have no doubt that prison security is an interest of that kind. But the State has offered no evidence to show that its wholesale prohibition on outside spiritual advisers is necessary to achieve that goal. Why couldn’t Ray’s imam receive whatever training in execution protocol the Christian chaplain received? The State has no answer. Why wouldn’t it be sufficient for the imam to pledge, under penalty of contempt, that he will not interfere with the State’s ability to perform the execution? The State doesn’t say. The only evidence the State has offered is a conclusory affidavit stating that its policy “is the least restrictive means of furthering” its interest in safety and security. That is not enough to support a denominational preference.


Anonymous said...

Meh. Your selected quote leaves out the law.

The argument of the minority is that failing to give this muslim a special privilege (i.e., someone to metaphorically hold his hand during execution) is a violation of the Establishment Clause.

That's silly.

The violation of the Establishment Clause is that Christians can have someone there based on their religious beliefs. That practice should be enjoined unless and until atheist inmates can have their old buddy of choice there to comfort them in the room when they die. To give the Muslim the same privilege as the Christian (a privilege based on religion) has the effect of establishing religion - a violation of the Establishment Clause. But the atheist issue wasn't up. So, as the saying goes, bad facts make bad law.

Anonymous said...

10:06 - You were obviously pulling a Joshua Trump when establishment clause was being taught in ConLaw.

Anonymous said...

10:06-- probably not a lawyer; just an angry atheist