A lawyer alleges that the Tennessee Supreme Court’s professional liability council dismissed him illegally for posting tweets that an opposing party said exhibited anti-Muslim prejudice, arguing that his posts on social media were political speech protected by the constitution, similar to that of the former. President Donald Trump.
The professional liability board regulates licensed Tennessee attorneys. Jerry Morgan handled appeals to the state supreme court regarding the discipline of attorney, according to complaint filed on Monday in the US District Court for the Central District of Tennessee.
Attorney Brian Manookian, who was in disciplinary proceedings, filed a lawsuit movement to disqualify Morgan, claiming that he was an anti-Muslim fanatic. Manookian cited several tweets that Morgan had posted that, among other things, praised then-candidate Trump for “talking about issue # 1 of our time – stopping Muslims” and discrediting Muslims and Democrats.
Manookian claimed that Morgan had an anti-Islamic tendency that could harm him, because his wife was a Muslim and his children were being raised in a Muslim family.
Morgan says his posts were “of an arguably political nature”, on controversial issues, but that were part of the national debate. “Many were the views publicly expressed by Trump” and agreed by voters in Tennessee, who voted “overwhelmingly” for him in 2016, says Morgan. There were no charges against him for biased conduct in the Manookian case or any other, Morgan says.
Morgan was fired in December. He sued the council and disciplinary advisor Sandra Garrett, claiming that he was punished unconstitutionally for tweets made in his private capacity and dealing with matters of public importance.
Cause of action: First Amendment.
Relief requested: Damage, precautionary measure.
Reply: A spokesman for the Tennessee Administrative Courts Office declined on Tuesday to comment on pending litigation.
Attorneys: Blackburn Firm PLLC represents Morgan.
The case is Morgan v. Prof.l Resp. from Sup. Ct. of Tenn., M.D. Tenn., No. 3: 21-cv-00274, complaint filed on 4/5/21.