Anti-gay Tennessee DA claims his religious rights are being violated after attempt to have him disqualified

Anti-gay Tennessee DA claims his religious rights are being violated after attempt to have him disqualified
Image via Screengrab.

A Tennessee county prosecutor who says the law does not apply to same-sex couples and Muslims is now claiming his First Amendment rights of religion and political viewpoint are being violated. Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott attacked a defendant in a case he is prosecuting that hinges on First Amendment freedoms to protest and petition the government to redress grievances, saying his attempts to remove the D.A. from his case are “constitutionally repugnant.”

Northcott says his critics “are trying to impose on me a religious and political test for serving in my office, for conducting my job,” Nashville’s News Channel 5 reports.  Northcott says his critics don’t “like” his “theological and political beliefs.”

The case involves student activist Justin Jones, who is charged with throwing a paper cup of iced tea or some other liquid into an elevator filled with lawmakers, during a protest. No one was hurt.

“This case is every bit about race and equality and marginalized populations,” Jones’ attorney, Nick Leonardo, told a judge last week. “And with those sorts of views, judge, it’s impossible for Mr. Jones to get a fair trial.”

The judge said she did not have the authority to remove Northcott.

D.A. Northcott has said God does not recognize the marriages of same-sex couples, so he believes domestic violence laws and protections do not apply to them. He also says that Muslims do not worship the “one true God” so they do not have religious rights. He has the ability to determine what charges to prosecute, which means his remarks might be used to reveal discriminatory behavior.

Jones appears to be a strong public speaker with a following. On Thursday he told supporters Northcott had offered him a deal to drop the charges against him if he agreed to not protest at the state house again. He says he refused.

Watch Jones’ speech:


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