DALLAS (February 9, 2019) – Representatives from the Muslim Legal Fund of America, a constitutional rights organization, expressed concerns over the recent Supreme Court ruling to vacate a stay of execution for a Muslim inmate after serious questions about religious discrimination were raised. The stay was initially granted by an Appeals court in order to determine if an Alabama prison’s refusal to allow a Muslim clergyman in an execution chamber was a violation of the First Amendment clause regarding denominational neutrality.
According to Justice Kagan, one of the dissenting judges in the ruling, the Supreme Court is “ordinarily reluctant to interfere with the substantial discretion Courts of Appeals have to issue stays when needed,” and that the Court’s overturning of the stay (by a vote of 5-4) “short-circuits that ordinary process” and is “profoundly wrong.”
Dominique Ray, who converted to Islam while incarcerated, was executed in Alabama shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday evening. His Imam (religious adviser) watched from an adjoining room.
“There is a process to address those grievances, but it was ultimately denied. The denial of Mr. Ray’s request illustrates the larger problem of the disparate treatment of Muslim chaplains based on so-called security concerns. This happens too frequently and needs to be addressed. Muslims deserve equal access and the Court’s ruling leaves open further challenges.”
Muslim Legal Fund of America is a national nonprofit charity that funds projects to defend constitutional rights in America. Established in 2001, MLFA has defended freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to a fair trial, right to an attorney, due process of law and other constitutional rights