Supreme Court Grants Final Religious Requests of John Ramirez

March 24, 2022 2:15 pm

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled today that John Ramirez, an incarcerated individual currently on death row in Texas, is likely to prevail in his lawsuit seeking the right to have his pastor pray aloud and lay hands on him as he is executed.

While the court’s ruling comes at the preliminary injunction phase of the case, the 8-1 decision made clear that Texas has no valid reason for denying Mr. Ramirez his requested religious accommodation. The court firmly rejected the state’s argument that granting Mr. Ramirez’s final religious requests would pose a security risk or disrupt the execution. The court further recognized that Mr. Ramirez “is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of injunctive relief because he will be unable to engage in protected religious exercise in the final moments of his life.”

Statement from Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief:

“As the court made clear, Texas has given no good reason for denying Mr. Ramirez’s reasonable request for basic religious accommodations during the execution. This welcome decision will help him find spiritual comfort in his final moments.”

Mr. Ramirez’s arguments before the Supreme Court were supported by a group of spiritual advisors and former high-level corrections officials who have collectively witnessed, participated in, or overseen more than 50 executions. In an amicus brief filed on their behalf with the Supreme Court by the American Civil Liberties Union, the group explained the vital role that spiritual advisors have long played in executions both in Texas and beyond, including — in many instances — praying audibly and physically touching their advisees to provide spiritual comfort and a final opportunity to connect with their faith.

The amicus brief from spiritual advisors and corrections officials can be found online here:

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