According to The Texas Tribune, the U.S Supreme Court stopped the execution of Patrick Murphy, one of the notorious “Texas Seven”, who was sentenced to death for the 2000 murder of an Irving police officer during a robbery. Reportedly two hours after his original execution time, the U.S. Supreme Court put a hold on his execution because Texas officials wouldn’t allow a Buddhist chaplain to be present in the death chamber with Murphy.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the concurring opinion regarding the appeal, and determined that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice was in violation of Patrick Murphy’s religious rights. “At this Court has repeatedly held, governmental discrimination against religion-in particular, discrimination against religious persons, religious organizations, and religious speech-violates the Constituion,”.
The Texas Tribune reports that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice only allows registered employees of the prison into the death chamber, and there currently is no Buddhist chaplain on staff, only Muslim and Christian clerics.
They also report that Murphy’s lawyers sent a request to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, where they denied the request to have a Buddhist adviser in the room. Upon a second request, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice reportedly didn’t respond. After his lawyers brought the issue to higher court, it was deemed that the policy set in place by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice violate Murphy’s religious rights.
The concurring opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court went on to say, “The choice of remedy going forward is up to the State….What the State may not do, in my view, is allow Christian or Muslim inmates but not Buddhist inmates to have a religious adviser of their religion in the execution room.”
From here, Murphy is being sent back to death row while the Texas Department of Criminal Justice reviews the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision and it’s future impact.
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