The Supreme Court’s docket demonstrates the court’s growing role as an adjudicator of religious liberty.
The Supreme Court will decide whether clergy in Texas can lay hands on a condemned convict in the hours before an execution and whether Maine parents can use public funds from a state tuition assistance program to send their children to religious institutions in the term that begins Monday.
Arguments over a Mississippi abortion bill, an FBI operation in which a paid informant was allegedly sent into California mosques, and a proposal to raise a Christian flag in front of Boston City Hall are all on the agenda.
The Supreme Court, according to William Duncan of the Sutherland Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah, has become the major – and practically sole – institution in the United States dealing with religious freedom problems.
Duncan writes in an article on the think tank’s website that previews the Supreme Court term, “It was arguably the framers’ intent for the legislative branch to play that role, but in the absence of protective legislation, in recent years the court has taken the responsibility to resolve important religious freedom conflicts over social services, parochial schools, education funding, etc.”
Duncan told Nokia News that more religious liberty cases have been brought to the Supreme Court in recent years, in part due to faith-based objections to a contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act and complaints that churches were subjected to stricter COVID-19-related limitations than secular places.
Religious liberty advocacy groups are keeping an eye on these cases:
Access to clergy during executions
As his execution date approached this fall, Texas convict John Henry Ramirez requested that a Southern Baptist preacher be permitted to pray openly and lay hands on him in the death chamber.
The request was denied by prison officials, but on Sept. 8, the day Ramirez was slated to die by lethal injection, Justice Samuel Alito granted a stay of execution, and the matter will be heard by the court later this fall.
A spiritual adviser is allowed in the death chamber by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, but they are not allowed to pray aloud or touch the convict, which prison authorities believe would be a security risk.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Ramirez vs. Collier on behalf of a group of spiritual advisers and prison specialists who have… Article Summary from Nokia News