“Messiah” Returns

A month ago, a Tennessee judge ordered that a child’s first name be changed from “Messiah,” reasoning:

“The word Messiah is a title and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ,” Judge Ballew said….

According to Judge Ballew, it is the first time she has ordered a first name change. She said the decision is best for the child, especially while growing up in a county with a large Christian population.

“It could put him at odds with a lot of people and at this point he has had no choice in what his name is,” Judge Ballew said.

Back then, I argued that this decision was unconstitutional, and I’m happy to report that a higher court has indeed reversed it:

Chancellor Telford E. Forgety Jr. overturned Ballew’s decision, ruling that the lower court acted unconstitutionally. He said the lower court violated the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution, and added that the court’s purpose was to determine the last name of the child, not his first name.

Thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer.