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Review panel cites judge for ruling based on belief that only Jesus earned title ‘Messiah’

by Brad A. Greenberg

October 28, 2013 | 5:53 am

From the She-Must-Have-Seen-This-Coming Department

When a Tennessee state judge said in August that a little boy named Messiah had to change his name because Messiah is a title and it's a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ," she must have thought her colleagues wouldn't look kindly on the decision.

After all, a very basic precept of First Amendment jurisprudence is that the government can't endorse religion (whether any specific religion or the general idea of religion), and the rationale for Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew's decision seemed to do just that. Worse, it was using the religious belief, possibly that of the judge's, to determine whether a behavior was appropriate.

Seemed like a slam-dunk no-no, and last month a judge ruled that Messiah DeShawn McCullough could keep his name; Ballew's decision had been unconstitutional.

Now bad is getting worse for Ballew. A panel reviewing her decision cited her for inappropriate religious bias in violation of the Tennessee judicial code of conduct. Reuters reports that the state's disciplinary counsel has been directed to pursue sanctions against Ballew, who has 30 days to respond to the charges.

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