Student Blawg – No Pledge = Jail

In October of this year, Danny Lampley, a Mississippi attorney, refused to say the “Pledge of Allegiance” in a Mississippi courtroom.  The presiding judge held Mr. Lampley in contempt of court and put him in jail for his actions.  Mr. Lampley is well known for his stance on free speech and defending others on their 1st amendment rights; and not reciting the “Pledge of Allegiance” in a court room.   The statement Mr. Lampley made to a magazine was, “I don’t have to because I’m an American”, seems to be the real reason why he pulled this stunt.  There was no other explanation as to why he does not want to say the “Pledge of Allegiance”.  In 1943 The Supreme Court ruled that schoolchildren couldn’t be forced to say the pledge, a decision widely interpreted to mean no one could be required to recite the pledge. In 1954, the words “under God” were added to the pledge, because congress wanted to separate the United States from other godless countries. This has been challenged in the courts since “The Pledge of Allegiance” has been created. ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/07/danny-lampley-arrested-pledge-of-allegiance_n_755074.html)  This article explains more about Danny Lampley and Judge Talmadge Littlejohn, their ideas and beliefs.  This article is where I got the above information on the Supreme Court.  (http://www.wsws.org/articles/2004/jul2004/pldg-j01.shtml) this website gives a more explanation on children reciting the “Pledge of Allegiance” and that a father tried to sue a school district in California, because they required all children first thing in the morning to recite the pledge; however, children can decline from this if they wanted to.

Did this violate his First Amendment right of free speech?

Mr. Lampley’s 1st amendment rights were violated because:

1.  The 1st amendment states:  “Freedom of expression consists of the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied rights of association and belief. The most basic component of freedom of expression is the right of freedom of speech. The right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government.” (websource Cornell University.

2.  The Supreme Court requires the government to provide substantial justification for the interference with the right of free speech where it attempts to regulate the content of the speech. A less stringent test is applied for content-neutral legislation. The Supreme Court has also recognized that the government may prohibit some speech that may cause a breach of the peace or cause violence. For more on unprotected and less protected categories of speech see advocacy of illegal action, fighting words, commercial speech and obscenity. The right to free speech includes other mediums of expression that communicate a message.  The level of protection speech receives also depends on the forum in which it takes place”.( websource Cornell University)

Therefore, when the judge had Danny Lampley put in jail for not reciting the “Pledge of Allegiance he violated Mr. Lampley’s 1st amendment rights.  However, a judge can demand respect in his courtroom and he can dictate how he would like his court room to be ran.  If a lawyer is either conducting business or just visiting any court room, he or she should always show respect to the judge by following his instructions; and if the lawyer does not want to follow the instructions he or she should give an explanation as to why they do not have to follow the judge’s instructions.
http://www.opposingviews.com/i/mississippi-lawyer-arrested-for-not-saying-pledge-of-allegiance

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