Alabama went ahead and executed a convicted murderer last night. Whatever you think and however you feel about the death penalty, I cannot understand how or why the Supreme Court, specifically five Catholic males on the Court, denied the man on death row his right to a spiritual counselor as he faced execution. Alabama allows a Christian chaplain to be present during executions, and a federal appeals court put a stay on this execution to look further into the likely violation of the prisoner’s First Amendment religious exercise rights. If Alabama denied religious counseling of any kind in the death chamber, that would be wrong, vicious, uncivilized, and barbaric–but not religious discrimination. That’s not the situation here.
Several conservative commentators, to their credit, objected to the Supreme Court’s decision to overrule the appeals court’s stay of execution. But John Roberts, what were you thinking? Elena Kagan’s dissent called you out for your willful abandonment of the “clearest command of the Establishment Clause,” which is that “one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another.” And you other crusading justices, Alito, and Thomas, and Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh? Were you raised by wolves? Where are your manners? Are you utterly unaware of the history of anti-Catholic discrimination and bigotry in the United States? Not to mention the legal history of Great Britain? And the many high horses you yourselves have ridden re “religious liberty”? Do you really want to go down in flames by claiming that the prisoner failed to make his request in a timely way? Really? His request to have his imam present–which was completely consistent with Alabama law allowing for a spiritual counselor of one’s choice–was denied on January 23, and he appealed on January 28. Five days is barely enough for some of you to clear your throats, you whited sepulchral deniers of fairness and justice and religious freedom. You should truly be ashamed and repent while you still have time.