In urging judges to refuse a stay of execution, Ken Paxton, Attorney General of Texas, a Republican, said Mr. Ramirez had engaged in legal proceedings. For example, Mr Paxton wrote, Mr Ramirez had at one point only requested that his pastor be present and not need to touch him.
The Supreme Court has taken various approaches to trials in which death row inmates have requested that their spiritual advisers be present to comfort them during their executions,
In 2019, for example, the court authorized by a 5-4 vote the execution of an Alabama inmate, Domineque Ray, a Muslim whose request to attend by his imam had been rejected. At the time, Alabama only allowed a Christian chaplain employed by the prison system to offer spiritual counseling to sentenced inmates during their final moments.
Judge Elena Kagan, writing for dissidents in 2019, said the majority was “deeply wrong”. According to Alabama policy, she writes, “a Christian prisoner may bring a minister of his own faith into the execution chamber to say his last rites.”
“But if an inmate practices a different religion – be it Islam, Judaism or any other – he cannot die with a minister of his own faith by his side,” Judge Kagan wrote.
A few weeks later, the court was faced with a similar case in Texas and reached a different conclusion, suspending the execution of a Buddhist inmate whose request that his spiritual advisor be present in the execution chamber had been rejected.
In a brief and unsigned order, the court said Texas could not execute inmate Patrick H. Murphy “unless the state allows Murphy’s Buddhist spiritual advisor or another Buddhist reverend chosen by the state to accompany Murphy in the execution chamber during execution “.