An intermediate appellate court in New York state has ordered a woman to get rid of a rock in her garden because it has a Confederate flag painted on it – or possibly lose her child.
The extreme order came from Judges Stan Pritzker, John Egan Jr., Sharon Aarons, Molly Reynolds Fitzgerald and John Colangelo and was in a custody ruling.
The parents are unmarried and have a daughter born in 2014 that is of mixed race. The ruling was an update in the custody arrangements, which provide for joint legal and physical custody.
Both parents had asked for primary custody, but the judges made only a minor adjustment, that the mother’s home shall be considered the child’s resident for purposes of schooling.
But then they addressed that image that has been targeted by social agenda warriors across the nation already, having been eliminated from college campuses, social media and more.
“Although not addressed by family court or the attorney for the child, the mother’s testimony at the hearing, as well as an exhibit admitted into evidence, reveal that she has a small confederate flag painted on a rock near her driveway,” the judges noted.
“Given that the child is of mixed race, it would seem apparent that the presence of the flag is not in the child’s best interests, as the mother must encourage and teach the child to embrace her mixed race identity, rather than thrust her into a world that only makes sense through the tortured lens of cognitive dissonance,” they said.
“Further, and viewed pragmatically, the presence of the confederate flag is a symbol inflaming the already strained relationship between the parties. As such, while recognizing that the First Amendment protects the mother’s right to display the flag, if it is not removed by June 1, 2021, its continued presence shall constitute a change in circumstances and family court shall factor this into any future best interests analysis.”
At Reason, constitutional scholar and legal expert Eugene Volokh explained that the judges were in danger of encroaching on constitutional rights.
“I think such restrictions on parents’ political or religious speech – including courts factoring the parents’ speech into a best-interests-of-the-child analysis – generally violate the First Amendment,” he wrote.
“And of course there’s nothing constitutionally special about Confederate flags: If courts can pressure parents to stop displaying such symbols, they can pressure parents to likewise stop conveying any other political messages that the court conjectures will be indirectly harmful to the child or inflaming to the other parent,” he said.
The court, in the case Christie BB. v. Isaiah CC., the judges said the information about the rock and its image came from a state “fact-finding” mission, according to a report at Flag and Cross.
“Justice Stanley Pritzker, who authored the appalling, fascist-like decision, decided that the woman who owned the rock simply must be a raving racist who is a danger to her own child,” the site explained. “Outrageously, the only evidence that this woman was racist was the rock. No other evidence was presented that the woman has ever acted like a racist, no history of racism was found, and no witnesses were brought to court to claim they thought she was a racist.
“The upshot is, this court felt it had the legal right to take a woman’s child from her over a rock.”
The Times-Union explained the woman lives in Tompkins County and the child attends the Dryden Central School District, east of Ithaca.
The judges had noted that the mother testified “she has never used any racial slurs in front of the child or at all.”
The report explained, “The child’s law guardian, Ithaca-based attorney Jason Leifer, told the Times Union he believed the mother had moved into the residence only recently and was not sure if she was responsible for the rock’s presence.”
But he, too, had a warning, “I think parties will now raise objections to many symbols and opinions held by the other party, including some that the majority of society does not find offensive. What’s going to have to happen is this — if the issue is raised the court will need to hear evidence of the child how the child’s well-being is negatively affected by a parent’s views and opinions. In some cases this will be easy, such as if a child is being indoctrinated into a hate group, but in many cases it won’t be so easy,” Leifer said.
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