Last night, more than two hours after it was set to take place, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the execution of Patrick Murphy based on his complaint of religious discrimination. His claim received strong support in an amicus brief from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
In concurring in the grant of application for a stay, Justice Kavanaugh writes:
“As this Court has repeatedly held, governmental discrimination against religion—in particular, discrimination against religious persons, religious organizations, and religious speech—violates the Constitution. The govern- ment may not discriminate against religion generally or against particular religious denominations. …
In any event, the choice of remedy going forward is up to the State. What the State may not do, in my view, is allow Christian or Muslim inmates but not Buddhist inmates to have a religious adviser of their religion in the execution room.”
On March 26, 2019, attorneys for Murphy filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas a motion for a stay of execution pending the resolution of his complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Murphy’s request for a reasonable accommodation to have a Buddhist priest instead of a Christian chaplain in the execution chamber had been denied by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Murphy asked the U.S. District Court to provide injunctive relief to ensure he was executed in a manner that did not substantially burden the exercise of his religious beliefs and complies with the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.
Here’s coverage of the stay from the Texas Tribune: