The state of Texas has banned all prison chaplains from its execution chamber, following a Supreme Court decision that halted the execution of a Buddhist man who was denied the presence of his chaplain.
Patrick Murphy had been scheduled to die last Thursday. Mr Murphy requested access to a Buddhist minister a month before his scheduled execution, and his request was denied because the minister was not a state employee. The prison system only allowed clerics employed by the state to enter the execution chamber. Currently, the state only employs Christian and Muslim clerics.
Seven Supreme Court justices agreed that Murphy’s rights had been violated and that his execution should be stayed. Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch did not join the majority opinion.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh said that that allowing only Christian and Muslim ministers to be present with death row inmates in the execution chamber was discriminatory, suggesting that a more just resolution would be that no chaplains be permitted in the execution chamber and instead they be allowed to sit in the viewing area.