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(RNS) — An appeals court has upheld a second stay of execution for a Buddhist Texas inmate who was scheduled to die by lethal injection Wednesday (Nov. 13), the latest move in an ongoing legal battle over his religious liberty rights.
The court found that inmate Patrick Henry Murphy had a First Amendment grievance with Texas’ death row policy, which does not allow his Buddhist spiritual adviser to be with him in the execution chamber.
March - Supreme - Court - Ruling - Murphy
In March, a Supreme Court ruling stopped Murphy’s execution hours before it was scheduled to begin, finding that Texas’ policy regarding chaplains allowed into the chamber was a violation of his religious rights.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice only allowed prison employees into the chamber, and the state only employs Christian and Muslim chaplains.
Response - Ruling - Texas - Policy - Chaplains
In response to the ruling, Texas immediately adopted a policy that would stop all chaplains and spiritual advisors from entering the chamber. But Murphy argued that the state’s pre-execution protocol still prevented him from meeting his spiritual adviser, while Christian inmates have access to Christian chaplains employed by the state.
When the Supreme Court stay expired, a Houston federal district court stayed his execution a second time on Nov. 7. Texas’ Department of Criminal Justice filed an emergency appeal to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Texas - Attorneys - Protocol - Religion - Chaplains
Texas attorneys argued that the protocol does not favor any religion because their Christian chaplains are encouraged to learn about many faiths and will listen to and be a...
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