National Catholic Reporter

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Washington

Bishops welcome court's review of using lethal injection in executions

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The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to review the use of lethal injections in carrying out executions is a welcome move, said the chairmen of two U.S. bishops' committees.

The court said Jan. 23 it will review the drug protocols of lethal-injection executions in the state of Oklahoma and consider whether such procedures violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

"I welcome the court's decision to review this cruel practice," said Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

State of the Union speech hits on numerous social justice themes

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Barack Obama hit on numerous themes that resonated with Catholic advocates for social justice issues.

Among the items included in Obama's policy agenda in the president's annual speech before a joint session of Congress were what Fr. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, called the "bold ideas" of proposals to enable students to have two years of community college education without paying tuition; to expand paid leave to working parents and to make home ownership more accessible.

Supreme Court upholds religious rights of prisoners

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A Supreme Court that has extended the reach of religion into public life in recent years ruled Tuesday that spirituality can overcome even prison security concerns.

The court came down decisively on the side of a Muslim prisoner whose beard had been deemed potentially dangerous by Arkansas prison officials. Growing a beard, the justices said, was a Muslim man's religious right.

Supreme Court weighs a church's right to advertise services

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The Supreme Court on Monday considered a tiny church's curbside sign in a case that could raise the bar on government regulation of speech and make it easier for houses of worship to advertise their services.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, the advocacy group that represents Pastor Clyde Reed and his Good News Community Church, bills the case, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, as a religious rights case. But their attorney mostly argued it on free speech grounds.

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