supreme court halts texas execution
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Supreme Court halts Texas execution over religious-rights concerns after clergy barred from death chamber

By | Rachel Brooks 

Staff | Telegraph Local

See | The New African Living Standard

Above, black and white photo of the death chamber in Missouri State Penitentiary. Created by Chris Friese. CC By 2.0.

The Supreme Court hotels a Texas execution citing religious-rights concerns after the clergy were barred from the death chamber. This was reported by the Associated Press and was shared to local outlets such as 1010 News Talk WCSI on June 16. It was also dispatched across the wire services such as via ABC 7 Chicago. 

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The U.S. Supreme Court gave reprieve Tuesday to a man sentenced to death for the fatal stabbing of an 85-year-old woman. The incident occurred nearly twenty years ago. The woman was murdered at the hands of Ruben Gutierrez. The U.S. Supreme Court blocked Guiterrez’s execution approximately one hour before his sentence was carried out. This was because Guiterrez’s attorneys argued his religious rights were being violated because the prison system would not permit a chaplain to accompany him to the death chamber. 

The case of barring a champlain’s attendance was not unique discrimination against Guiterrez. The prison system in Texas banned clergy from the death chamber last year. This followed a ruling from the Supreme Court that halted the execution of Patrick Murphy. Murphy had requested a Buddhist adviser be allowed in the death chamber. Regarding the ruling in Partick Murphy’s halted execution case, the Texas prison system decided to bar all clergy and religious ministers from death chambers. Instead, only prison security staff would be allowed into the death chamber. 

Fox News spoke with Guiterrez’s attorney, Shawn Nolan. 

“Through hundreds of previous executions, the state of Texas has recognized that people being executed have the right to be in the presence of religious advisers when they face the end of their lives. Mr. Gutierrez has that same right,” said Nolan, as he was quoted by Fox News. 

CBS News likewise interviewed Nolan, who cited Guiterrez’s Catholicism as the reason why having clergy present was of such great importance to the inmate personally. 

Texas is set to resume executions post the lockdowns, but Guiterrez’s execution date is postponed again.

“As a devout Catholic, Mr. Gutierrez’s faith requires the assistance of clergy to help him pass from life into afterlife. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice changed its policy for its own convenience, but spiritual comfort at the time of death is not a convenience; it’s a protected legal right,” said Nolan, in response to the stay of execution, as quoted by CBS News. 

Catholic clergy also gave their opinions to CBS News regarding Texas’ position on barring clergy from the death chamber. 

“To deny a prisoner facing imminent execution access to spiritual and religious guidance and accompaniment is cruel and inhuman,” said Bishop Daniel Flores, as he was quoted by CBS News. 

CBS reports that the decision to delay Guiterrez execution is a continuation of a four-month delay of his execution. 

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CBS News reported that Guiterrez has had a great deal of support as the SCOTUS reached its decision. Among those advocates of Guiterrez, Kim Kardashian West is one of the most famous. She sang the praises of SCOTUS for reaching this decision. 

“UPDATE!!!! Thank you Supreme Court of the United States for granting a Stay of Execution for Ruben Gutierrez! Now his case will go back to the lower courts to decide the issues with his case!,” said Kardashian-West in a tweet that was posted at 8:30 pm on June 16. 

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