Why did the Supreme Court deny a Muslim’s plea for an imam at his execution?

The Economist - 02-11


WHEN THE SUPREME COURT cleared the way for Alabama to execute Domineque Ray, a Muslim man who had wanted his imam by his side as he died, the legal commentary ranged from surprised to outraged. The justices’ order, on February 7th, approved by a 5-4 vote—with the four liberal-leaning justices in dissent—made no mention of the apparent constitutional problem with Alabama’s refusal to grant Mr Ray’s request. According to Alabama Department of Corrections policy, the prison’s Christian chaplain may be present during a lethal injection and, on request, “will kneel at [an inmate’s] side and pray with him”, but clergy of other faiths are barred from the room.