US Supreme Court to hear case of death row inmate requesting pastor’s touch at execution

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Ramirez v. Collier on Tuesday, Nov. 9, almost two months after the court delayed a scheduled execution over a question about the role of spiritual advisors in the death chamber.

The court will consider the constitutionality of Texas’ prohibitions on a spiritual advisor touching a condemned prisoner during his execution, and on a spiritual advisor audibly praying or singing during an execution under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

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.

 

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