Supreme Court Sees 2 Similar Death Penalty Questions Very Differently
NPR by Nina Totenberg
March 30, 2019
Two Supreme Court decisions just hours before a scheduled execution. Two decisions just seven weeks apart. Two decisions on the same issue. Except that in one, a Muslim was put to death without his imam allowed with him in the execution chamber, and in the other, a Buddhist's execution was temporarily halted because his Buddhist minister was denied the same right.
The two apparently conflicting decisions are so puzzling that even the lawyers are scratching their heads and offering explanations that they candidly admit are only speculative.
On Feb. 7, the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, ruled that Alabama could go ahead with its execution of Domineque Hakim Ray, a Muslim man convicted of murder. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals had temporarily blocked the execution because the state barred the condemned man from having a Muslim imam at his side in the death chamber. Alabama said only the prison's Christian minister would be allowed in.
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