U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Alabama's Effort to Bar Pastor From Execution Chamber

Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week to uphold a ruling that halted the execution of an Alabama inmate unless the state allowed his pastor to be present in the execution chamber. Alabama prison officials previously denied Willie B. Smith III his request under a recently revised policy that bars spiritual advisers of all faiths from the execution chamber. 

A federal appeals court then ruled that the execution could not proceed unless the pastor was present. The Supreme Court's order did not give any reason why it would not vacate the lower court's ruling. The case was the latest in a series of disputes on the roles that spiritual advisers may play during executions that have divided the justices. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed a brief supporting the inmate.

February 22, 2021 - 8:33am

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