This article analyzes the first amendment right of condemned prisoners to have their spiritual advisor with them up to the point of execution. It dives into a brief yet relevant historical background of the death penalty in the United States. Then it analyzes the specific protections awarded to death penalty inmates up to the point of their executions through R.L.U.I.P.A. At its core, it compares and contrasts two recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court: Dunn v. Ray, 139 S. Ct. 661 (2019) and Murphy v. Collier, 139 S. Ct. 1111 (2019), in which the Court reached two different conclusions regarding the matter of a prisoner's right to a spiritual advisor during execution. The comparison is made in the light of the Establishment Clause and Free exercise of religion, as established in the First Amendment of the Constitution. It concludes that denying condemned prisoners a right to have their spiritual advisor with them up to the point of execution is a violation of their First Amendment rights, as guaranteed by the Constitution.
Geysel M. Gómez Lozada,
May I Hold on to My God as I Die?: An Analysis on a Death Row Inmate's Right to Spiritual Advisors Inside the Execution Chamber,
Lincoln Mem’l U. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.lmunet.edu/lmulrev/vol7/iss2/4