A Tennessee district attorney is reportedly under investigation by the state’s Supreme Court after he called Muslims inherently “evil” and said same-sex couples aren’t entitled to domestic violence protections.
Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott has refused calls to resign or apologize for commentary on Facebook and at a Bible conference that led to a complaint to the state Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Responsibility, the Tennessean reported.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which filed the complaint against him in May, told the Tennesseean that they were notified by the Supreme Court’s board on Friday that an investigation has been opened. A spokesperson for CAIR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A spokesperson for the Board of Professional Responsibility has declined to confirm or comment on any possible investigation into Northcott, pending any public discipline or formal proceedings being filed.
The complaint followed Northcott writing on Facebook back in April that Muslims’ belief system is “evil, violent and against God’s Truth.” He also compared them to the KKK and Aryan Nation.
In early June, he faced renewed calls to resign after a video surfaced of him saying last year that he would not prosecute domestic violence cases involving same-sex couples because he doesn’t recognize them as married.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) told reporters on Thursday that he is waiting for more information about Northcott’s behavior before publicly commenting on it.
“I don’t know the details until investigations are done, so it’s premature to make comments about that other than to say we need to make sure we follow the laws in this state,” he said, according to the Tennesseean.
CAIR, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, has accused Northcott of failing to fulfill his duties “in a just and fair manner.”
“His statement implying anyone who does not belong to the same belief system as he does is not guaranteed constitutional rights, directly compromises his ability to execute his duties in a fair and just manner,” the organization said in a statement that urged him to resign. “Islamophobia is just another form of white supremacy.”
The Tennessee Equality Project has also called upon his resignation, saying his actions “are disqualifying for office.”
“He must step down so that the people of Coffee County can be served by a District Attorney who will apply the law according to the principle of equal protection.”
“He must step down so that the people of Coffee County can be served by a District Attorney who will apply the law according to the principle of equal protection,” the organization said in a statement.
Tennessee’s Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers states that bias or prejudice while representing a client is an act of misconduct.
Under Rule 8.4, an attorney who “knowingly manifests, by words or conduct, bias or prejudice based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status” during such representation is harmful to the administration of justice.
Northcott has not responded to requests for comment.