The Atlantic

The Religious-Liberty Claim the Justices Didn’t Want to Hear

If the free-exercise clause allows you not to bake and sell a cake, maybe it should also allow you to have an imam at your own execution.
Source: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

On Thursday night, the Supreme Court, by a vote of 5–4, allowed the Alabama state prison in Atmore to execute Domineque Ray, a convert to Islam, by lethal injection for the 1995 rape and murder of 15-year-old Tiffany Harville, and the murders of two brothers. He died alone. He was denied his request to have his imam, Yusef Maisonet, by his side.

Reading the majority’s decision, I kept asking myself, How would these five justices have responded if all the facts were the same but Ray were a Christian and the imam were a priest? Would they have decided to ? That appellate court stated, “It looks substantially likely to us that Alabama has run afoul of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.” That’s the clause that prohibits” to a devout Muslim such as Ray, and all other non-Christians.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
An Imperfect SAT Adversity Score Is Better Than Just Ignoring Adversity
The College Board’s simple, straightforward indicator will make schools pay attention to the tough odds some applicants face.
The Atlantic7 min read
The Lucrative Black Market in Human Fat
In 16th- and 17th-century Europe, physicians, butchers, and executioners alike hawked the salutary effects of Axungia hominis.
The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
A Lesson From 1930s Germany: Beware State Control of Social Media
Regulators should think carefully about the fallout from well-intentioned new rules and avoid the mistakes of the past.