US Supreme Court hears case of inmate requesting pastor at execution

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in the case of a man seeking to pray with his pastor as he is executed, and according to one legal expert the case may not be as cut and dry as it could seem.

John Henry Ramirez, 37, was originally set to be executed Sept. 8 at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville. His execution was delayed hours before it was due to occur after the Supreme Court intervened, agreeing to hear his case.

Ramirez seeks to have Pastor Dana Moore of Second Baptist Church in Corpus Christi present with him as he receives lethal injection, and laying hands on him as he is dying. He was told that this would not be possible and that ​​personal contact by his pastor would not be permitted.

During the Nov. 9 arguments, Texas’ Solicitor General Judd Stone admitted to Justice Stephen Breyer that audible prayer and touching during executions were “commonplace,” and that there were no incidents in the nearly four decades that Texas permitted spiritual advisors to accompany condemned prisoners in the death chamber.

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