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The Establishment Clause of the Constitution and violation of offenders' rights
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Thread: The Establishment Clause of the Constitution and violation of offenders' rights

  1. #1
    Moderator mostlyclassics's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
    Wilmette, IL

    The Establishment Clause of the Constitution and violation of offenders' rights

    This is in regard to the Domineque Ray case in Alabama [February 2019], in which the State of Alabama violates Ray's rights under the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Alabama's execution protocol prohibits Ray from having his Muslim imam from being present in the death chamber as the condemned is executed. They allow a Christian minister or nobody.

    This case raises at least two interesting questions:

    1. A fair number of states' execution protocols (or in some cases, state laws) have similar provisions, i.e., only a Christian minister can be present in the death chamber. No matter how the Supreme Court rules in the Ray case, will this be grounds for other inmates raising this issue on appeal?

    2. Where can a state draw the line on persons present in the death chamber with regard to the Establishment Clause?

    Clearly, Christian ministers, pastors, bishops, etc., are admissible to the death chamber. So are rabbis and imams (IMO for imams).

    But how about Rastafarians? That's an organized religion. Rastafarians blow weed via doobies or water-pipes as a sort of sacrament. Indeed, that religion requires (among other things) Rastafarians to smoke marijuana at every opportunity they can get. Of course, toking grass in the death chamber can be prohibited because of the disruption factor. But should an inmate get to chew Alice B. Toklas brownies, lest he be denied his Rastafarian sacrament, before he departs? Obviously, those would have to be smuggled into the prison. But that happens all the time with other illicit substances.

    Rastafarians do have some sort of spiritual advisors, whom I suspect would have to be allowed. But would such advisors have to cut their dreadlocks? Dreadlocks are another requirement of Rastafarian religious belief. And would such an advisor have to leave his distinctive garb at the door? Dreadlocks and weird clothes can be called disruptive. But I don't see any difference between those and a priest's ecclesiastical collar and stole, or an orthodox rabbi's yarmulke, black fedora, and prayer shawl, which routinely aren't called disruptive.

    What do other folks think?
    "Sorry for the delay, I got caught in traffic." Rodney Scott Berget, Nebraska, October 29, 2018 final words.

  2. #2
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member CnCP Addict one_two_bomb's Avatar
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    Jan 2015
    Detroit MI
    Maybe they should have followed the part of their religion that says "don't murder people" and they wouldn't be in this predicament. Why is this argument even being considered?

  4. #4
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    Jun 2015
    Bucks County Pennsylvania
    If SCOTUS rules in favor of Ray, the response will probably just be to bar the anybody that isn't the warden or part of the execution team from entering the room during the night. Which will probably piss off a number of inmates and make Ray as hated as Brewer.

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