We've heard this scenario before: a judge tells someone of a "different faith," i.e., different than the majority and the judge, that the person cannot enter the courtroom while wearing a required religious head covering. What a silly and bigoted thing to do.
GA already went through this in 2009 when another judge (who needs a tin foil hat instead of a robe) barred a woman from wearing her hijab in the courtroom. That lead to the policy that specifically said religious head gear is allowed.
But there is always that one judge ... that one outlier ... that one person who somehow thinks the rules don't apply and he can just violate the Constitution because he wants to ...
So is the case of Judge James Chafin of Henry County, GA. Judge Chafin had refused Troy "Tariq" Montgomery entrance into the courtroom to answer a traffic ticket. The offense? A kufi. A religious cap.
I'm not sure when Judge James Chafin went to law school, but I can say with 100% certainty the First Amendment was the same then as it is in 2011. And I am positive that Judge James Chafin knew of the policy that came down in 2009 (everyone in the state knew of it; it was every TV news show, the newspaper and every radio talk show in the nation.)
So why would Judge James Chafin refuse a Muslim entrance into his courtroom? Well, let's see. I could say it was bigotry toward Muslims. I could say a bit of racism (Montgomery is black). Or I could say he wanted to covert Montgomery to a different religion. Or maybe it was to embarrass the guy.
Whatever the reason, Judge James Chafin has now reversed himself and will allow the guy into the courtroom after "doing his own research" and determined the kufi is indeed a religious symbol.
Wouldn't it have been better if Judge James Chafin would have just let the guy have his religious views, followed the Constitution and the policy set down in 2009?