John Ramirez is alive! Many Americans did not expect this news on Wednesday. Because actually the convicted murderer in Texas should be executed with lethal injection. But the Supreme Court stopped the execution at the last moment – and postponed it for religious reasons.
The judges granted an urgent motion from Ramirez on Wednesday evening (local time). The 37-year-old had demanded that a clergyman accompany him during his execution and also be able to touch him physically. As a member of a Baptist church, he requested that his pastor put his hands on his body in the execution room and pray aloud for him.
The prison authorities in Texas do not allow this: A clergyman is allowed to stay in the death chamber during the execution; For security reasons, however, he must keep his distance from the death row inmate. Ramirez saw his religious freedom violated because of this.
Ramirez stabbed a grocery store employee 17 years ago in a robbery to get money for drugs. He stabbed his victim 29 times. In 2008 he was found guilty of murder and then sentenced to death.
The Supreme Court has now agreed to the provisional stay of enforcement and said it will consider the case in October or November. As is customary in urgent proceedings, the court initially did not give reasons for this decision.
The chief judges have dealt with such cases on a regular basis over the past few years. In 2018 they refused to suspend the execution of a Muslim prisoner who had requested the presence of an imam by his side, which sparked widespread public outrage. As a result, a few weeks later the court suspended the fatal injection of another convict who wanted to be accompanied by a Buddhist pastor.
It referred to the right of Christians to be supported by a pastor of their faith. The prison authorities are not allowed to distinguish between religions. Several states then fundamentally ruled out the possibility of a clergyman accompanying them during executions.
However, in 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that this radical solution violated the constitutional right to freedom of worship and again suspended two executions.