What happens when a stubborn judge and a civil rights lawyer butt heads in the court room? Well, for the lawyer, it means jail time for contempt of court when he refused to stand up and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Via Politics Daily:
A Mississippi judge jailed a lawyer for several hours this week for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, but the attorney wouldn’t back down and says he’s still processing the incident and trying to decide what to do next.
On Wednesday, Chancery Judge Talmadge Littlejohn told Oxford lawyer Danny Lampley to “purge himself” of contempt by standing and repeating the oath like others in the courtroom. When Lampley wouldn’t budge, the judge put him in the can for 4½ hours, eventually releasing him so he could represent another client, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported.
But although there is a great deal of backlash against the over-reaching judge, it appears that he won’t be feeling any repercussions for his stunt.
Constitutional scholars and others are speaking out about Lampley’s First Amendment free-speech rights.
“The judge is lucky he has immunity and can’t be sued,” said George Cochran of Oxford, the iconic constitutional law professor at Ole Miss Law School.
“This man has a constitutional right not be forced to repeat the pledge.”
First Amendment scholars point to the 1943 U.S. Supreme Court decision in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, a case in which Jehovah’s Witness students refused to salute the flag.
The Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protected students from the salute or the pledge, saying that the state did not have the power to compel speech in that manner for anyone.
While Littlejohn could not be reached for comment Thursday, the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance is believed to have received at least one complaint about Lampley’s treatment.
Bloggers and attorneys also have criticized Littlejohn, a former district attorney who was admitted to the Bar in 1960 and lives in New Albany.
Phillip Thomas, a Jackson attorney who also blogs, termed Littlejohn’s conduct “ignorant and inexcusable.”
Said Rob McDuff, a well-known civil liberties lawyer in Jackson: “Judge are supposed to enforce the Bill of Rights, not violate it in their own courtrooms,”
McDuff and First Amendment Center scholar David Hudson Jr. in Nashville said they’d never heard of a similar situation.