Texas Bishops File Amicus Brief in Support of Death Row Inmate's Right to Religious Liberty

The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops filed an amicus brief in support of death row inmate Ruben Gutierrez in his challenge to Texas' policy of preventing clergy from entering the death chamber. In response to the challenge, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a last-minute stay of execution; the order came about an hour before Gutierrez was to be executed Tuesday evening, giving him a 30-day reprieve.

The amicus brief reiterated the Catholic Church's long standing principle of opposition to the use of capital punishment, while also focusing on the further violation of Mr. Gutierrez's right of religious liberty because of Texas' refusal to allow chaplains to accompany those being put to death into the execution chamber.

In April 2019, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) issued new execution procedures which ban chaplains and ministers from the execution chamber. Under the new protocols, TDCJ chaplains will be available to the inmates until they are transferred to the execution chamber. Ministers and spiritual advisers also may observe executions from the witness rooms.

June 23, 2020 - 7:10am

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