The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Sept. 8 accepted a capital case to its merits docket for the 2021-2022 term. The case, Ramirez v. Collier, originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, located in New Orleans.
John Ramirez filed an emergency appeal with the court on Sept. 7 to postpone his execution and to hear his case on the merits. Ramirez was convicted of a 2004 murder and was sentenced to be executed on Sept. 9. Ramirez requested that his pastor be allowed to pray over him and physically touch him in the execution chamber while he was put to death. The State of Texas refused the request. Ramirez argued that this denial was a violation of his constitutional and federally protected religious rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. The state argued that it did not force Ramirez to violate his religion, rather, it was not meeting all of his religious needs.
SCOTUS granted the emergency appeal to stay the execution and accepted the case for oral arguments this fall in order to consider the aid a spiritual advisor may or may not provide during an execution.
To date, the court has agreed to hear 34 cases for the 2021-2022 term. Two cases were dismissed after they were accepted. Fourteen cases have yet to be scheduled for arguments.