You find a group of people toward which the media and many Americans are unsympathetic, like, say, those polygamist families in Texas with the weird hair.
Now that the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that the State acted inappropriately in seizing all their children, you'd think--rule of law and all--that what happens next is that those 400 children are returned to their families, right?
No, not according to Texas District Judge Barbara Walther:
A Texas judge refused on Friday to sign an agreement that would have paved the way for the first large batch of children taken from a polygamist sect's ranch to return to their parents, dashing hopes raised by a Supreme Court ruling in the case.
Texas District Judge Barbara Walther wanted to add restrictions to the parents' movement and broaden the authority of Child Protective Services to monitor the more than 400 children in foster care before signing an agreement by CPS and the parents that would have reunited the families.
When several parents' attorneys objected and argued that Walther didn't have the authority to expand the agreement, she said she would only sign the initial document after all 38 parents whose case was considered by the Supreme Court signed off — a provision attorneys said would ensure the children stayed in custody at least through the weekend.
So let's trace it down:
1. Child Protective Services removes 400 children from their families in a blatantly illegal fashion, based on no valid complaint or any certifiable evidence of abuse.
2. The Texas Third Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court both smack the wrist of CPS and says the State's kidnapping of 400 children crossed the line. Quoth the Third Court of Appeals:
The Third Court of Appeals said that the local authorities had acted too hastily by not going to court first. “Even if one views the FLDS belief system as creating a danger of sexual abuse by grooming boys to be perpetrators of sexual abuse and raising girls to be victims of sexual abuse . . . there is no evidence that this danger is ‘immediate’,” the court said in its ruling.
“Evidence that children raised in this particular environment may some day have their physical health and safety threatened is not evidence that the danger is imminent enough to warrant invoking the extreme measure of immediate removal.”
3. Judge Walther says, I refuse to let your children come home until you agree to sign a provision allowing CPS to monitor your treatment of your children.
And what we hear from the Demopublican presidential candidates is--predictably--silence.
Again, another opportunity exists for the Barr/Root ticket to stand up on an issue that makes sense to Americans (at least half of whom, many polls suggest, agree completely that the local CPS authorities acted inappropriately). In my fantasy campaign, I visualize this statement:
One of the reasons that Libertarians oppose the power of the State, is that the State far too often refuses to adhere even to its own laws and regulations. Recently, Texas appellate courts ruled that the seizure of 440 children from a polygamist sect was inappropriate, and that the children should be returned to their families. Now, however, Texas District Judge Barbara Walther has ignored not only the law, but the ruling by superior courts, to impose an additional set of conditions before she will execute the decision of the Texas Supreme Court.
This amounts to blackmail and judicial kidnapping.
It is simply wrong when the State decides not only to target people because their private relationships are based on different values than the majority, but also to ignore the rule of law and the force of judicial decision to coerce American citizens who have not been convicted of any crime into signing an agreement to allow the government to monitor the manner in which they have chosen to raise their children.
Without doubt, the polygamist beliefs of this fundamentalist sect of the Church of Latter Day Saints run counter to those of many--possibly most--Americans, but as the Libertarian Party platform declares:Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no discriminatory impact on the rights of individuals by government, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration, or military service laws. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have legitimate authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships.
I challenge the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to join me in issuing definitive statements condemning the actions of this rogue judge.
Bob? Wayne? Where the hell are you guys?