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Vox Sentences: Third time’s still not the charm

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The Supreme Court blocks an execution; another Brexit deal fails.

A blocked execution in Texas

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • The Supreme Court blocked the execution of a Texas prisoner on Thursday after he was denied the presence of a Buddhist spiritual adviser — a decision that struck a clear contrast with the court refusing to block an Alabama inmate’s execution last month when he was denied a Muslim imam. [USA Today / Richard Wolf]
  • Justice Brett Kavanaugh voted with the court’s liberal justices and wrote a concurring opinion emphasizing the government’s obligation to avoid religious discrimination. [The Hill / John Bowden]
  • The Texas inmate, Patrick Murphy, was serving 50 years for aggravated sexual assault. In 2000, he and six other inmates known as the “Texas 7” escaped from a maximum security prison southeast of San Antonio, robbed a store and killed a police officer — leading to his capital murder conviction. [NPR / Matthew S. Schwartz]
  • Texas officials argued to the court that they denied Murphy his spiritual adviser over security concerns: Only chaplains who are state employees and were extensively vetted by the prison system were allowed to attend executions, and those chaplains only consisted of Muslim imams and Buddhist priests. [Associated Press / Juan A. Lozano and Michael Graczyk]
  • This does not mean that Murphy won’t be executed, it simply means that there will be a delay until the prison brings him a Buddhist chaplain to be in the room. [Chron / Keri Blakinger]
  • The Supreme Court heard a similar case in February from an Alabama inmate, Domineque Ray, who argued that his religious freedoms were being violated when he was not allowed to have a Muslim imam with him. Yet the court voted 5-4 to allow his execution to proceed, and Justice Kavanaugh, who voted with the majority, said it was because the inmate filed for a review too late. [CNN / Ariane de Vogue]

Brexit deal fails for the third time

  • British lawmakers rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s third attempt at a Brexit deal on Friday, meaning the UK either will need a new strategy and another delay or will leave the European Union without a deal on April 12. [CNN / Lauren Said-Moorhouse]
  • To better the chances of passing the proposal, May had agreed to step down. The gambit didn’t work, although it did help her gain more votes from people who don’t agree with her proposal — but not allies in Northern Ireland and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who helped doom the deal. [Vox / Jen Kirby]
  • May now wants to hold a fourth vote sometime next week, apparently because the margin of defeat for each successive Brexit deal vote has been getting smaller. [The Guardian / Heather Stewart and Jessica Elgot]
  • The immediate next step is a series of votes on April 1 to consider other options — which include trying to negotiate the deal again, calling a new general election, or holding a no-confidence vote. [BBC / Peter Barnes]


  • Garfield telephones have been washing up on France’s shores for decades. And now we know why. [The Washington Post / Meagan Flynn]
  • NASA’s Hubble found an asteroid that was spinning so fast it was self-destructing. [BGR / Mike Wehner]
  • The artist “Invisible Man” Liu Bolin hides 20 people in Chinese paintings as a way to comment on the political evolution of Hong Kong. [CNN / Stella Ko]
  • New York just might become the second state to ban plastic bags. [Slate / Elliot Hannon]
  • Someone paid $90,000 for a Harry Potter book filled with typos at an auction. Why? It’s a first edition. [The Verge / Jon Porter]


“Sad day for me, and apparently the Philippine government isn’t satisfied with arresting just me; the fact that they also included upstanding, successful tech and education entrepreneurs and businessmen? This is a bad signal to send to the rest of the world.” [Maria Ressa, a journalist from the Philippines, said on Friday after she was released on bail. She was arrested at Manila Airport for allegedly violating an investment law. She is known for her criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte.]

Watch this: How Brexit could create a crisis at the Irish border

Brexit involves the UK closing its borders, and the issue of the Irish border is one of the hardest things to negotiate with the EU. Closing this border could undermine the compromise that kept the peace for 20 years. [YouTube / Sam Ellis]

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