WASHINGTON, DC – The following is a statement from Sirine Shebaya, interim legal director for Muslim Advocates, on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last night in Dunn v. Ray allowing the state of Alabama to execute a Muslim man without honoring his request to have a chaplain of his own faith present:
Last night’s decision gratuitously robbed a man of the ability to practice his faith during the final moments of his life. It will undoubtedly be remembered as a shameful mistake in the Supreme Court’s history.
The case is a textbook example of religious discrimination. The actions of the state of Alabama were transparently about targeting Mr. Ray because of his religion. Yet the court’s conservative majority, which expresses deep concern about religious liberty in other contexts, took the extraordinary measure of reversing the Eleventh Circuit stay in order to allow him to be killed–without so much as an opportunity to make a case for having his chosen religious representative present at his execution.
Last night’s tragic decision is in line with the court’s regrettable decision in Trump v. Hawaii to uphold the Trump administration’s heinous, discriminatory Muslim Ban. In both cases, the Supreme Court ignored crystal clear evidence of anti-Muslim prejudice and sent a message that religious minorities are not protected by First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom. Yet in Masterpiece Cakeshop, the court allowed a Christian baker to deny services to an LGBTQ couple under the guise of religious freedom.
These decisions send the dangerous message to religious minorities that, ultimately, they do not enjoy the same protections that their Christian counterparts do. They signal a jurisprudence of religious liberty, not for all, but only for a chosen few.
Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.