Supreme Court conservatives are skeptical on spiritual advisers in death chamber

The U.S. Supreme Court returned to the subject of religious rights today, this time in the context of death row inmates who have asked that their spiritual adviser in the death chamber be able to pray and touch the condemned. NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg reports.

NINA TOTENBERG (SHS 1962), BYLINE: The subject of spiritual advisers in the death chamber has at times divided the court's conservative supermajority. And it's also at times embarrassed the court as minority religious advisers turned out to sometimes have been excluded from the death chamber.

Today's case involved John Ramirez, sentenced to die for stabbing to death a father of nine during a convenience store robbery while on a drug binge. Four years ago, he claims, he got religion. And since then, his execution date has been postponed four times as the courts and the state of Texas have wrestled with his desire to have his Baptist pastor with him in the death chamber and able to pray and touch his foot.

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