"US Supreme Court West Facade" by Matt Wade / CC BY-SA 3.0

Civil rights experts question Supreme Court execution rulings

Apr 2, 2019

By Aysha Khan

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled to block Texas’ planned execution of Patrick Murphy, a Buddhist inmate, because he was not allowed to have his Buddhist chaplain in the execution chamber.

While religious freedom advocates applauded the move, some say the decision also left them perplexed. Just a month earlier, the Supreme Court allowed the execution of Muslim death row inmate Domineque Ray in a similar circumstance.

The American Civil Liberties Union called the decision to halt Murphy’s execution “good news.” But it criticized the court’s earlier ruling in Ray’s case.

“People of all faiths are entitled to religious freedom,” the ACLU said in a series of tweets. “The only real difference … is that Ray is a Muslim and Murphy is not. The Supreme Court’s divergent rulings once again suggest that Muslims are not treated equally.”

Sirine Shebaya, interim legal director at Muslim Advocates, applauded the Murphy decision in a statement. But she, too, wondered why the two cases had produced different outcomes.

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