JACKSON, Miss. -- The state Supreme Court is entering a dispute over whether rulings by Mississippi's lieutenant governor violated the rights of black lawmakers to protest the state flag and its Confederate battle emblem.

Seven black state senators have sued Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck over her refusal to allow them to express their displeasure over legislative proceedings through a long-standing practice of reading bills.In a stalling tactic designed to highlight their concerns, black leaders wanted 110 budget bills read aloud before final passage. Reading a bill can take more than a half-hour.

Tuck, the Senate's presiding officer, refused their requests, although she hasn't taken a position on whether the Confederate banner should remain on the state flag.

A chancery judge, Denise Owens, has issued an order that prohibited Tuck from stopping bills from being read, ruling that a "failure to read in full a conference report" violates the constitution.

Late Monday, a three-judge panel of the state Supreme Court blocked enforcement of Owens' ruling until they could hear from both sides Tuesday.

Tuck said Monday she did not think the Legislature should get involved in the flag issue because "we have more pressing matters."

The state flag has the design of the Confederate battle flag in an upper corner.

The flag debate in Mississippi has not yet taken on the proportions of the dispute in South Carolina, where a boycott has cost the state millions of tourism dollars.