You Can’t Force People to Say the Pledge of Allegiance, Part II

A couple of months ago, I blogged this item:

You Can’t Force People to Say the Pledge of Allegiance[:] That’s what the Court held 67 years ago even as to schoolchildren, and the rationale of the case would squarely apply to others, such as lawyers. But news travels slowly to one Mississippi courtroom, where Chancery Judge Talmadge Littlejohn sent a lawyer to jail for contempt of court, because the lawyer refused to say the pledge. (The lawyer apparently did stand during the pledge, but didn’t speak.) “Give thanks for your freedom, son, or I’m sending you to jail,” is how Radley Balko (The Agitator) put it.

The judge apparently changed his mind a few hours later, and released the lawyer. I’m happy to say that Tom Freeland (NMissCommentator) was working on an emergency petition for mandamus on the lawyer’s behalf, but that seems to have become moot as a result of the judge’s change of mind.

[UPDATE: Maybe further legal action will indeed be necessary; Judge Littlejohn’s order releasing the lawyer says that “the issue of further incarceration shall be held in abeyance pending further order of this Court.”]

I’m pleased to report that Judge Littlejohn has admitted his error, and that “[t]he Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance has recommended to the state Supreme Court that [the judge] be publicly reprimanded …. Littlejohn also must pay $100 in court costs.” I would think a somewhat more substantial fine would be warranted, though. Thanks to How Appealing for the pointer.

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