"Murphy's faith teaches that, in order to enter into what he understands to be the" Pure Land, "he must focus on the Buddha at the time of death, and Rev. Shih's presence in the chamber would make that possible, "wrote the lawyer, David R. Dow.
A prison official responded that only prison employees are allowed in the execution chamber," which precludes Mr. Murphy's spiritual adviser from being present. ”
On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that Mr. Murphy had waited too long for file suit. The prison policy was long established and public, the panel said in an unsigned opinion, making delays “unacceptable under the circumstances.”
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed a supporting letter urging the justices to require prison officials to late Mr. Shih into the execution chamber. "The guidance of the soul at the moment of execution – the moment at which the knife falls – has for centuries been recognized as a crucial moment of religious exercise calling for a minister's guidance," the brief said. "This court should recognize that our Constitution and civil rights laws support a right to that guidance."
In the Alabama case, Dunn v. Ray, the majority, in an unsigned opinion, said that the inmate, Domineque Ray, had waited too long to object. Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the four-member liberal wing, said the majority was "profoundly wrong."
During Alabama's policy, she wrote, "a Christian prisoner may have a minister of his own faith accompanying him into the execution chamber to say his last rites. ”
“ But if in some practices and different religion – whether Islam, Judaism or any other – he may not have a minister of his own faith by his side, ”wrote Justice Kagan.