An Ohio woman has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that her 14th Amendment rights were violated when she was asked to remove a political button while in court.
Andrea Burton, a Youngstown attorney, is suing Youngstown Municipal Court Judge, Robert Milich over the matter. Burton was wearing a Black Lives Matter button while appearing before the judge in a case in his courtroom.
Burton refused to remove the button, and Milich cited her for contempt of court. A United States Supreme Court decision prohibits the wearing of political buttons in courtrooms.
In addition to claiming that her free speech rights were violated, Burton is also claiming that her 14th Amendment rights of due process and equal protection under the law were violated. The incident happened in July when Judge Milich asked Burton to remove the button while in chambers, but she refused.
When they returned to the open courtroom, the judge asked Burton once again to remove the button. She again refused to do so. Burton says that she was “respecting her First Amendment right”, and that she is “not going to remain neutral in injustice”, referring to the Black Lives Matter issues.
Judge Milich says his opinions about the Black Lives Matter movement had nothing to do with his decision. “A judge doesn’t support either side. A judge is neutral…and it was a situation where it was just in violation of the law.”
Along with Judge Milich, Burton also sued Milich’s colleague, Judge Elizabeth Kobly and the city of Youngstown. For the moment, Milich has stayed the contempt order after Burton agreed to follow the dress code of the court.
An appeal is pending. What do you think?
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