Friday, February 19, 2010

Custody and Religion, Again.

A Chicago court may be about to jail (link repaired, see also here and here ) a law student/parent for taking his child to church in what seems, from the interview he gave, to be a clear and deliberate violation of a court order.

While a California court would clearly not make a similar order, the manner in which the issue arose here raises a couple of interesting questions:

To what extent can/should a court in a custody case consider, or attempt to govern, conduct of a parent which, without context, is pretty clearly within that parent's core Constitutional rights (whether it's this case, or publishing the details of the custody litigation on a blog, or saying critical things in a public forum about the other parent, or the parent who named his kid "Adolph Hitler") but is actually done in a manner which is clearly calculated to have an impact on the other parent, or at least is reasonably foreseeable to have a substantially unfavorable impact on the child?

You'll note, if you read the story, that Mr. Reyes took his three-year-old daughter to church with a television news crew in tow.

Is parental selfishness, or even plain bone-headedness or vindictiveness, entitled to additional protection if it occurs in the context of parent's exercise of a protected constitutional right?

1 comment:

Eric said...

Excellent question!

Isn't the first amendment rather paramount here? The right of freedom to worship should supercede a parental objection. After all, we can't have judges deciding which religions are more acceptable than other ones. Would Christian Science be labeled a cult? The Mormon church? A Buddhist temple? Better to trust the parents and respect religious freedom

Plus, millions of children have certainly been dragged, against their will and commonsense, to many absurd religious rituals in our often quite religous land. Towing the TV crew along just adds drama - and perhaps some trauma - for the judge. Children, alas, must handle their parental misguidance in spiritual affairs until they live on their own.

Or am I missing something here?

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