Friday, March 20, 2015

Just hang the flag, Chief Judge Morrison

It began innocently enough.  Portsmouth Sheriff Bill Watson received an American flag made from a fire hose as a gift from the Portsmouth Fire Department. The flag included a blue line in the middle in support of law enforcement and emergency personnel. Watson, whose office is on the first floor of the Portsmouth Judicial Building wanted to display the flag in the lobby of the building. The lobby is bare except for a photograph of members of the city bar association.

So, Watson asked the head of building maintenance if he could hang the flag, who had to clear this with Johnny Morrison, Chief Justice of the 3rd Circuit Court. City general services say that what may be hung in the judicial building falls under the purview of the Chief Justice.

While waiting for the answer, Watson simply hung the flag in the lobby. Then, it was removed by a court order, with the Chief Justice refusing to keep the flag in the lobby because he defined it as a work of art. He also has later argued that hanging the flag would show favoritism to the police force. The other three circuit judges also opposed the flag being hung.

Recounting the events to NewsChannel 3, Watson said he was told, “Not only do we not want it on the wall, we don’t want it in the courthouse.”

“I just can’t believe that they don’t want to display the American flag in a courthouse, I mean that’s the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” Watson added.

The flag is currently hanging in the glass of Watson’s office facing the lobby.

So what if it was made out of hoses and was painted? So what if it could be considered a work of art? By such a standard, a Jasper Johns American flag painting or Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 oil on canvas, Washington Crossing the Delaware, would not be hung.

Why, because they were painted?

Or maybe, something else. Perhaps, the Chief Justice does not like the Portsmouth fire hose flag simply because it shows a love of country and an appreciation for law enforcement.

Of course, it has nothing to do with showing favoritism for the police, it’s about saying thank you to those who put their lives on the line every day to protect and defend the local Portsmouth community. There is no ideological or legal issue at stake, and yet the Chief Justice has seen fit to create one.

When you get down to it, the court’s refusal to display the flag and showing support for police and emergency personnel is just mean-spirited. They all work in the same building, for goodness’ sake.

As Watson noted, “They expect my deputies to put their life on the line for a judge. If somebody was going to come into a courtroom with a gun, the deputy is supposed to stand in front of the judge and take a bullet, but yet they won’t let us have our flag, saluting public safety? To me, that’s a slap in the face.”



Anonymous said...

Once again, political correctness runs amok !

slinky said...

This justice is nothing more than a little hitler.

Bird of Paradise said...

I suppose if a flag was laid on the floor for people to walk on these same panel of blacked robed monkeys would call it ART and allow it to stay

Anonymous said...

It's not a flag.

No matter how much people want to say this is a flag, it isn't. It is a piece of art work.

The US flag has a definite design that is codified.

This artwork is not within those design specifications so the artwork is not due the same consideration as the US flag.

While this Police Chief talks about his deputies and protecting people, I am not sure that I want a police chief that cannot understand the flag code.

Anonymous said...

ANON 8:27 AM

It is extremely dubious that the chief was implying that this is a "flag" per the flag code. The point was that anyone looking at it would consider it a flag and the distinction that it is art is a thin legal veil. This appears to have some political background between the two justices and the chief and the justices are going to come out looking the fool.


Anonymous said...


If it is not a flag, then stop calling it a flag. Stop trying to generate outrage by saying "... they won’t let us have our flag...."

While there may be political issues between the judges and the chief of police, the police are the ones looking like fools. As I said, when police start to label something it is not, it shows they cannot read or comprehend basic laws and civil codes. That would bother me, but it seems it doesn't bother you and I will accept that.

The police are looking like whiney little brats who will lie to get what they want.

Anonymous said...

As someone who recently had jury duty, I think the courthouse should not be adorned with decorations regardless of whose they are. The chief justice was the one who gets to decide, and he decided. That should be that. When they whine about the decision it makes them look like children.

Use the Name, Luke said...

Who cares whether it's a flag or art? Can anything be more appropriate to hang in a building devoted to law and justice in the United States of America? I don't think so!

Anonymous said...

Luke pontificating yet again. There may well be even more appropriate things to "hang" in such a building.

Anonymous said...

Tend to agree with Anon 8:27.
This is not a mere flag and the fact that it has been altered in a particular way to give a particular message means it is not in keeping with the necessary impartiality of the court buildings.