An Arizona man has filed a federal lawsuit against some of the state’s top judges, claiming they’re taking away his freedom of speech and right to own firearms, all because someone didn’t like what he wrote on his blog.
“You can’t suspend someone’s constitutional rights [for blogging],” said Mike Palmer, who is bringing forth the legal action. “Everybody in America blogs or Twitters, so it’s a First and Second Amendment issue.”
The scenario started when Palmer, a 55-year-old Christian missionary from Phoenix, was online discussing “spiritual death” often referred to in the Bible.
But, according to the suit, a woman from Prescott, Ariz., Melody Thomas-Morgan, complained to authorities that Palmer was threatening her with “death,” keeping that word in quotes in her legal filings.
Palmer explains, “It is true that the blog, ‘That Woman Jezebel,’ talks about spiritual life and spiritual death. … Spiritual ‘death’ as in ‘The wages of sin is death.’ (Romans 6:23) … It is not true that the blog ever mentions the ‘death’ of Miss Thomas-Morgan.”
Judge Kenton Jones
Kenton Jones, superior court judge for Yavapai County, went along with the woman’s harassment complaint and ordered Palmer to surrender his guns.
“The order says that I am not allowed to possess firearms or ammunition, and directs me to turn over any weapons to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office,” Palmer told WND.
Palmer indicated he does not own any weapons at this time, but when pressed on whether he had any guns previous to the order, he said, “No comment.”
“I certainly want my gun rights,” he added. “There is no law in Arizona which allows the courts to suspend any constitutional right, but in this instance, my Second Amendment right. And, of course, my life’s in danger now. I can’t defend myself, I can’t defend you. I can’t defend my fellow man.”
Palmer’s suit is seeking a restraining order that would grant him back his constitutional rights.
He wonders if the Christian nature of his blogging has anything to do with the action taken against him.
“Being a Christian seems to make me fair game,” he said. “I bet if I were Muslim and writing about physical beheading on a blog, no judge would dare touch me with an injunction. Ironic.”
Not only is Justice Jones named as a defendant in Palmer’s suit, so are five other jurists on the state supreme court, including Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch.
The issue is reminiscent of another Arizona case, where a local judge ordered Michael Roth of Quartzsite, Ariz., to surrender his weapons because Town Councilman Joe Winslow was offended when Roth allegedly called the lawmaker a “turd.”
In fact, Palmer has set up a blog called Michael’s Law in honor of the Roth case to tell his own story.
Quartzsite Councilman Joe Winslow lists reasons he sought a restraining order against resident Michael Roth, claiming his entrance to town hall was blocked and that he was called a synonym for dog feces.
Winslow told Karen Slaughter, the elected justice of the peace for the region, what he wanted was that Roth and others with similar views “not be allowed to walk around armed. To me, I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist, but I have been diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) … that’s what I’m concerned with, that he’s gonna get so far into my personal space that I’m gonna react without thinking. I’m not making threats or anything like that. I’m not proud of that, but it’s the way I am.”
“I know that I’m 71 years old,” Winslow said. “I don’t want to be a statistic, I don’t want to go to jail and I don’t want to go in the hospital. But based on my history of 24 years in the service, I am more concerned about my reaction to his aggression than anything else, especially now that I believe that he is carrying a handgun. His actions have demonstrated in the past to me that he is not in full control of his emotions.”
After WND’s coverage of Roth’s case, Judge Slaughter eventually reversed her decision on the weapons ban, but Roth says she refused to dismiss his attorney fees.