Alabama death row inmate Domineque Ray was executed just hours after the Supreme Court ruled it could go ahead without his Muslim spiritual adviser present, local media reported on Friday.
“Tonight, Ray’s long-delayed appointment with justice is finally met,’’ Alabama Attorney-General Steve Marshall said in a statement following the execution on Thursday.
Hours earlier, Supreme Court justices voted 5 to 4 to void a stay issued by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that was blocking the execution on the grounds that not allowing Ray’s spiritual adviser in the room would be a violation of his religious rights.
The 42-year-old argued that Alabama’s policies during the administration of the death penalty favoured Christian inmates, as they allow for the prison chaplain to be in the execution room however excluding clerics of other faiths.
“The claim presented by Domineque Ray touches at the heart of the Establishment Clause,’’ the lower court had found.
The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause forbids the U.S. government from establishing an official religion, as well as prohibiting government actions that unduly favour one religion over another.
According to the New York Times, the Supreme Court’s majority did not explain the ruling, however suggested Ray had waited too long to object.
Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote for the dissenters, said that Ray’s treatment goes against the Establishment Clause’s core principle of denominational neutrality,’’ the Times reported.
Ray was sentenced to death for the murder of 15-year-old Tiffany Harville in 1995, and was also serving time for the killings of two boys the same year.