Judge Jails Attorney For Refusing To Recite Pledge Of Allegiance

This qualifies as the most astounding display of judicial arrogance I’ve ever seen:

TUPELO – Danny Lampley’s clients usually are the ones ordered to the Lee County Jail.

Wednesday, Chancellor Talmadge Littlejohn sent the 49-year-old Oxford attorney there for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in court.

Littlejohn urged Lampley to reconsider repeating the Pledge, as every other person in the judge’s courtroom did as the day’s proceedings began.

“This morning, that was the last thing on my mind,” Lampley said late in the day after a child-support hearing.

At 10 a.m., Lampley was in jail garb. By 2:30 p.m., Littlejohn ordered his release and return to the Lee County Justice Center to continue their business.

After the hearing, Littlejohn’s assistant said the judge had no comment on the matter.

Lampley said he was worried the judge would send him back to jail.

Simply put, the attorney said he and the judge have a “different point of view” about things, like loyalty oaths and the pledge.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Lampley said, “I’m just not going to back off on this.

“It’s a problem, but it’s for the judge and me to work out.”

Say what you might about Lampley, I don’t know anything about him obviously, but for Judge Littlejohn to turn what is obviously some kind of personal political dispute between the two into an excuse to exercise his powers to hold someone in Contempt of Court is inexcusable.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Franklin says:

    We don’t have many chancellors in the United States, except for universities and the Smithsonian. Is this Tupelo, MS, or some Tupelo elsewhere? I can’t tell from the link. Obviously the Pledge of the Allegiance is usually said in the States, but … ?

  2. Chancellor’s are judges in Mississippi, serving in the Chancery Courts, which have jurisdiction over equity matters, divorce and adoption, custody, etc:

    http://www.mssc.state.ms.us/aboutcourts/chancerycourt_about.html

    Apparently, Mississippi is one of the few remaining states that maintains a strict distinction between law and equity courts.

  3. John P says:

    I have no comment other than that courthouse is about 2 blocks away from my office. On the plus side, at least it wasn’t a story about meth, pedophile teachers, or non-acceptance of tuxedo wearing lesbians. We’re kind of famous for those other things…and being the birthplace of Elvis.

  4. PD Shaw says:

    Do they have a rule about reciting the pledge?

  5. James Young says:

    “most astounding display of judicial arrogance I’ve ever seen”

    Obviously, you’ve never read Roe v. Wade. Or Texas v. Johnson. Or Romer v. Evans. Etc.

  6. James,

    Like Justice Scalia I happen to think Texas v. Johnson was correctly decided

  7. PD Shaw says:

    I also wonder if they have a judicial inquiry board. Around here, I think the judge would soon be announcing an interest in spending more time with his family.

  8. I’m sure there is.

    Of course, remember what happened in neighboring Alabama when the Chief Justice ignored the explicit Orders of several Federal Courts. He became a political hero to the GOP in the state.

  9. @James Young, I think this outranks them. Set your political preferences aside — an “arrogant” judicial action is one that results from the judge placing his own preferences for the way things ought to be (whether those be liberal or conservative) in a superior position to well-established law (whether that law be favored by liberals or conservatives). Roe v. Wade had a colorable cite to precedent (i.e., Griswold). Texas v. Johnson was decided correctly. Romer v. Evans is the most arrogant of the three decisions you cited; while it relies on a new line of reasoning, it nevertheless does refer to substantial precedent along the way.

    Judge Littlejohn, however, ignored West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943) 319 U.S. 624, which is not exactly a new case nor one that is even particularly controversial anymore. Requiring someone to recite the pledge tramples on that person’s First Amendment rights. Maybe Chancellors in Mississippi aren’t required to swear an oath to uphold the Constitution upon assuming office? I doubt it.

    I suspect and hope that Judge Littlejohn will be getting a letter of reprimand from the Mississippi Supreme Court in the near future. He’s earned it.

  10. PD Shaw says:

    Some local legal blogging, including a link to the copy of the contempt order:

    http://nmisscommentor.com/law/lawyer-jailed-by-chancellor-for-failing-to-rise-and-recite-pledge-of-allegiance/

    Sounds like the judge is a wimp, he didn’t follow up with his threat to make the attorney purge the contempt.

  11. besure10 says:

    Stand up for your country or get out. We have enough people that just want to be here and enjoy all the good things this country has to offer but they don’t want to cite the pledge. From many of the comments that I have heard, sounds like we have some shallow air heads out there that had no parents around to supervise and show them what responsibility is. There was a muslim sentenced to life just this week. He became a USA citizen just one year ago. The Judge ask him if he meant what he said when he took the pledge of citizenship and he said that he was faking it. We have too many fakes in the USA, those that are naturalized and those that were born here. If that lawyer wants to practice somewhere else other than the USA he can go to the middle east like Iran or to Mexico or elsewhere and see how the strict limitations affect his feeling for the USA. The Judge should not have had to do this but because of the ACLU and infiltration of unpatriotic beliefs he will probably find himself apologizing. What has happened to the USA? SHAME, Shame.

  12. mantis says:

    Stand up for your country or get out. We have enough people that just want to be here and enjoy all the good things this country has to offer but they don’t want to cite the pledge.

    Translation: citizens must make mandatory loyalty pledges or leave the country.

    . The Judge ask him if he meant what he said when he took the pledge of citizenship and he said that he was faking it.

    So reciting a bunch of words doesn’t automatically make you a good citizen, yet you think those that don’t do it when told should leave the country. Logic and you haven’t met, have you?

    The Judge should not have had to do this but because of the ACLU and infiltration of unpatriotic beliefs he will probably find himself apologizing.

    Actually, it would be because of his arrogant overreach of power.

  13. Ben says:

    besure10 – “because of the ACLU and infiltration of unpatriotic beliefs”

    The Supreme Court decided Barnette 67 freaking years ago. The found that forcing someone to recite a pledge is completely at odds with the 1st Amendment. This judge is so far out to left field, it isn’t even funny.

  14. MM says:

    Stand up for your country or get out.

    And what if my religion forbids me to recite oaths? Am I mot allowed to be a real American because of my religion?

  15. besure10 says:

    Dear Ben,
    Barnette should have been repealed ASAP 67 years ago. The European settlers settled this country out lining the constitution under christian law. All Americans should pledge allegance to the country or else why are they here. I believe there must be some liberals and acorns on board.

  16. mantis says:

    Barnette should have been repealed ASAP 67 years ago

    Barnette was a case before the Supreme Court. Court decisions can be overturned, but not “repealed.”

    European settlers settled this country out lining the constitution under christian law.

    The Constitution has nothing to do with “christian law,” whatever the hell that is supposed to be (how about the ten commandments? How many of them do you find in the Constitution?).

    All Americans should pledge allegance to the country or else why are they here.

    Loyalty oaths are for authoritarian regimes, not countries founded on principles of liberty and self-agency. It is exactly my right to not say the pledge that makes this country great.

    I believe there must be some liberals and acorns on board.

    I don’t know about that, but you sure are a nut.

  17. besure10 says:

    Maybe so and I sure wish that the people you worked for if you do knew that you were certifiable and spent so much time trying to tear down America. I believe that I got on the wrong blog. Pardon me.

  18. “The European settlers settled this country out lining the constitution under christian law.”

    Ah, this again.

    The Constitution is not a religious document. It contains no religious principles. It specifically disclaims religious tests for holding public office, it specifically states that there shall be no establishment of religion. Not a one of the Ten Commandments found its way into the Constitution. Not a one of the many noble (and a few not so noble) teachings of Jesus Christ found their way into the Constitution.

    I defy you to identify even a single “Christian principle” or “Christian law” which has a significant cognate in the Constitution. If you want to take up this challenge, provide a citation to the Bible and to the Constitution for where you think one matches up with the other. Compare, for instance, 1 Peter 2:17 to Article I, section 9, clause 8. They say rather different things about kings.

    I will not go. I am here because 1) American citizenship is my birthright, and 2) what makes American citizenship so great is I don’t have to pledge allegiance to the flag if I don’t want to — and even better, I owe no one an explanation as to why, and 3) the nation was really founded upon the idea that individuals have inherent rights to which the interests of the government are subordinated. For that, I suggest you read the Declaration of Independence — another deeply secular document.

    Sadly for you, this means that the “liberals and acorns” among us are free to act as they see fit, irrespective of whether what they say and do is pleasing to you — and you and the “acorns” must tolerate one another nonviolently for so long as this is a free nation. The moment the “acorns” can’t say, think, and act as they please (nonviolently), we stop being free. Judge Littlejohn may have thought he was enforcing respect for the flag, but what he really did was make this nation that much less free than it had been before he took the bench that morning.

    The claim that the Constitution was founded on Christian principles is a dangerous lie and a subversive fraud perpetrated by haters of freedom.

  19. mantis says:

    The claim that the Constitution was founded on Christian principles is a dangerous lie and a subversive fraud perpetrated by haters of freedom.

    Also known as conservatives.

  20. Steve Plunk says:

    I wonder if all the judiciary is becoming arrogant. What consequences might this judge face except from his peers or an impeachment of some sort that would be too cumbersome to actually get done. Has the balance of power shifted too much?

  21. Steve Plunk says:

    Transplanted Lawyer, With due respect while we agree the Constitution is a religion free document I can’t agree that those who believe it was founded on Christian principles are haters of freedom perpetrating a subversive fraud. There are immediate concerns when it comes to subversive fraud than those people.

    The Declaration is a secular document with mentions of God and divine providence. The founders wrote secular documents but they were very religious by today’s standards.

  22. The founders wrote secular documents but they were very religious by today’s standards.

    Some of them, yes. Some of them, not so much.

    As to the rest, I plead guilty to the offense of indulging in hyperbole.

  23. An Interested Party says:

    “As to the rest, I plead guilty to the offense of indulging in hyperbole.”

    In this case, it is hardly offensive to engage in this hyperbole, as it was the perfect response to the historical ignorance and jingoistic idiocy spouted by besure10…

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