I think that black lives matter, because all lives matter to me. But I don’t believe in the Black Lives Matter political movement; it’s racist and divisive. What I do believe in, however, is the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and its mandate for freedom of expression. So if a lawyer wants to exercise her freedom of expression by wearing a Black Lives Matter lapel pin in the courtroom, no judge has the legal authority to squash that right.
Yet that is exactly what Youngstown Ohio Municipal Court Judge Robert Milich has done to attorney Andrea Burton in his courtroom. He found her in contempt of court and sentenced her to five days in jail for refusing his demand that she remove her BLM lapel pin. He’s squashing her First Amendment rights. If anyone ought to know not to violate the First Amendment, it’s a judge in a court of law.
"There’s a difference between a flag, a pin from your church or the Eagles and having a pin that’s on a political issue," judge Milich insists.
No, judge, you have to know that the First Amendment makes no such distinction and therefore you are not at liberty to decide the matter. An American flag lapel pin is just as much a political expression as a BLM pin. If one is acceptable expression then so is the other.
"He indicated to me he didn't know if I was trying to seek attention from the news or whatever the case was, but that legally I wasn't allowed to wear it and I deferred and said that I'm respecting my First Amendment right," said attorney Burton.
It matters not the reason she is wearing it. An attorney wearing an American flag pin might be seeking attention as well by showing that he or she is a patriotic American. Burton is simply expressing her support for BLM. It would be different if she was using a large poster or wearing a BLM t-shirt instead of proper courtroom attire which would have the effect of disrupting the proceedings. Lapel pins are too small and unobtrusive to create a disruption.
The judge has no authority to squash the First Amendment in his court.