Opinions Relating to Orders - 2018

Murphy v. Collier

Statement of JUSTICE KAVANAUGH, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE joins, respecting grant of application for stay. In light of JUSTICE ALITO’s opinion dissenting from the Court’s March 28 order, I write to respectfully add two points. 1. On March 28, the Court stayed Murphy’s execution. Murphy is Buddhist and wanted a Buddhist minister in the execution room. Under Texas’ policy at the time, inmates who were Christian or Muslim could have ministers of their religions in the execution room. But inmates such as Murphy who were of other religions could have ministers of their religions only in the adjacent viewing room and not in the execution room. That discriminatory state policy violated the Constitution’s guarantee of religious equality. On April 2, five days after the Court granted a stay, Texas changed its unconstitutional policy, and it did so effective immediately. Texas now allows all religious ministers only in the viewing room and not in the execution room. The new policy solves the equal-treatment constitutional issue. And because States have a compelling interest in controlling access to the execution room, as detailed in the affidavit of the director of the Texas Correctional Institutions Division and as indicated in the prior concurring opinion in this case, the new Texas policy likely passes muster under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), 114 Stat. 803, 42 U. S. C. §2000cc et seq., and the Free Exercise Clause.