Willie B. Smith III remains alive on death row in Alabama, after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a ruling that required Smith’s spiritual advisor to be in the execution chamber with Smith when he was given the lethal injection.
The ruling came down around 11:08 p.m. Thursday night, with the Alabama Department of Corrections calling off the execution one minute later.
In the concurring ruling, Justice Elena Kagan said that the law “guarantees Smith the right to practice his faith free from unnecessary interference”.
“The Eleventh Circuit was right to bar Alabama from executing Smith without his pastor by his side,” Kagan said. “Nowhere, as far as I can tell, has the presence of a clergy member (whether state-appointed or independent) disturbed an execution.”
Kagan along with Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Amy Coney Barrett all denied the Alabama Attorney General’s Office’s motion to overturn a…