The U.S. Supreme Court in late March delayed the execution of a death-row inmate in Texas on the grounds that he had been denied the right to have a spiritual counselor with him in the execution chamber.
The high court's action in Murphy v. Collier temporarily blocked the execution of Patrick Murphy, a Buddhist who is on death row in Texas. The move surprised some observers because the Supreme Court, ruling in a very similar case in February, turned away a claim by a Muslim inmate on death row in Alabama who was denied the right to have an imam with him.
State correctional officials told the Alabama inmate, Domineque Ray, that he could have a Christian chaplain during his final moments, but argued that allowing an imam to be present in the execution chamber would present a security risk. When the case reached the Supreme Court, the justices split 5-4 and ruled against Ray.
In the Texas case, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh switched sides and voted with the court's liberal bloc, and it appears that Chief...