Supreme Court rules death row inmates can receive prayer and touch during execution

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Texas must allow a death row inmate to have a pastor pray over him and touch him as the prisoner is lethally injected, setting a broader precedent for religious rights of incarcerated individuals.

The high court ruled 8-1 in the decision , determining that the state of Texas’s arguments over potential disruptions to the execution process were not sufficient to overcome religious freedom rights under a law passed in 2000 known as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

The Supreme Court in September granted a stay request to Texas inmate John Ramirez , who was to be put to death for the 2004 murder of Corpus Christi convenience store clerk Pablo Castro.

Ramirez was initially denied a request for silent prayer and touch by his pastor in lower court decisions, but a majority of justices ruled in favor of backing a broader interpretation of the government’s duty to cater to the religious practices of prisoners.

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