U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson reversed himself yesterday and ruled that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and Bishop George Augustus Stallings Jr. may sit as spectators in the Barry trial, after their lawyers said the two would act with decorum in the courtroom.

Jackson reversed his previous position one day after the U.S. Court of Appeals threw the decision back to him, with a clear signal that he could not bar anyone from his court based merely on that person's political, legal or religious views.

Last week Jackson barred the two men from the federal drug and perjury trial of Mayor Marion Barry, saying they were potentially disruptive and intimidating. The American Civil Liberties Union immediately challenged the order as an unconstitutional deprivation of the rights of the two men.

In open court yesterday, Jackson attempted to dispense with the matter quickly, telling ACLU attorney Arthur B. Spitzer, "I don't think it's necessary to hear from anyone else."

But Farrakhan's lawyer, Lewis Myers Jr., who had flown in from Chicago, insisted on having the final word on the judge's characterization of Farrakhan as potentially disruptive. Myers said he felt it was "insulting."

In Farrakhan's "entire career as a public person, there has never been any threat of violence . . . disruption of any hearing or proceeding," Myers told the judge. "And we would like to be treated . . . like any other American citizen."

Farrakhan was on a speaking tour yesterday, Myers later told reporters, but planned to attend the trial at some point.

Stallings appeared at the hearing, and Spitzer assured the judge that Stallings would abide by his rules of decorum for the trial.

Jackson gave them copies of the special rules.

The rules state, among other things, that any attempt to communicate with a juror may be punished as criminal contempt of court.

When the Barry trial resumed yesterday, Stallings was in the courtroom's front row, where those attending at the defense's invitation normally sit.

Jackson, who suggested Thursday that he might rearrange the courtroom seating, said yesterday that he would not do so.

Meanwhile, outside the courthouse, the Rev. Al Sharpton, a black activist who was acquitted this week in New York of fraud charges, appeared on the plaza to protest Barry's prosecution as racially motivated.

"I'm not concerned about a seat in the courtroom," Sharpton said, "because I don't want to hear what the prosecution has to say."

Myers, Farrakhan's attorney, said he did not believe that white religious leaders, such as Jerry Falwell or Billy Graham, would have been excluded from the trial. "Perhaps there was a racial motivation," he said.

John D. Aldock, who represented the judge, said Jackson was simply attempting to run a "fair and orderly trial."

He said the judge, in legal arguments filed in the case, took the position that the "reasons for {Farrakhan and Stallings} attending was something more than their desire to see the proceedings."

Myers and Stallings yesterday denied that.

Aldock had argued that the judge rightfully excluded the two men because their presence would likely send messages of intimidation and racial animosity to jurors and witnesses. The arguments cited news reports of their statements alleging that Barry's arrest was racially motivated.

In the legal briefs, Aldock argued that there was heightened concern about their presence during the testimony of key government witness Hazel Diane "Rasheeda" Moore.

One former prosecutor said yesterday that if keeping them outside during her testimony was Jackson's motive, he had achieved his goal.

Moore's testimony ended Tuesday.

Farrakhan has been the focal point of racial and political controversy for years, and has been called a hatemonger by some for his public criticism of Jews, whites and some black leaders. Recently he has characterized statements attributed to him as distortions, and has said he is trying to mend fences.

Stallings, a Roman Catholic priest for 15 years, broke from the Washington Archdiocese a year ago, calling it racist. He has since become a bishop in a new church he formed. Staff writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.