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Child Abuse in the Name of Protecting Children:

Two snippets from the FLDS "child protection" case in Texas, in which 437 children have been forcibly removed from parental care while the state investigations allegations that adolescent girls were sexually abused by being coerced or "brainwashed" into "marriages" (religiously but not legally recognized) with much older men. (The raid was apparently prompted by a bogus call to CPS): (1) "Children under 12 months will be placed in foster homes with siblings who are under 5, she said, and every attempt will be made to place [other] siblings together. Boys 8 and older are going to Cal Farley's Boys Ranch northwest of Amarillo, where 27 adolescent boys already have been staying." (2)

The Texas judge overseeing the polygamous FLDS sect's case refused Monday to make any ruling that would allow breast-feeding mothers to remain with their children in state custody....Attorneys for the women asked the judge to consider letting nursing mothers remain with their children after negotiations with CPS on the issue stalled. They asked the judge to let the mothers stay until DNA results are in, likely to take up to 40 days. Walther acknowledged the nutritional and bonding benefits of breast-feeding. "But every day in this country, we have mothers who go back to work after six weeks of maternity leave," she said. "The court has made a determination that the environment those children were in was not safe," said Walther, adding that there is a shortage of suitable placements for infants in Texas.

Yep, having your mom go to work 8 hours a day is just like having no maternal contact at all and being placed in a foster home.

It's time for a nationally prominent civil liberties attorney to get involved.

UPDATE: And, courtesy of a VC commenter, a stinging op-ed from the Dallas Morning News:

Judge Barbara Walther, who is overseeing the YFZ Ranch case, yesterday declared: "The court has ruled the conditions those children were in were not safe for the children. I did not make the facts that got this case into the courts."

Excuse me, Judge? You issued a sweeping, house-to-house search warrant based on a highly questionable anonymous call that turned out to be phony. You refused to allow individual hearings for children, grouping them together like cattle. You accepted the testimony of an expert on "cults" who only learned about FLDS from media accounts, rather than an academic who'd studied them professionally for 18 years.

You've ruled the existence of five girls between 16 and 19 who were pregnant or had children was evidence of systematic abuse, even though in Texas 16-year-olds can marry with parental consent. You've ruled young toddlers are in "immediate" danger because of their parents' beliefs or what might happen 15 years from now, not because anyone abuses them.

bearing (mail) (www):
Speaking as a nursing mother, if faced with the prospect of separation from a nursing child (for the nursing child's "best interests" according to a judge), I'd rather submit to being shackled and supervised 24 hours a day while remaining available for my child.

If there is a real concern (I'm skeptical) that the mothers will abuse the children, why can't there be some possibility of 24-hour supervision of mother-child couplets while this is going on? Surely it would be better for the youngest children not to undergo this separation while the matter is investigated.
4.23.2008 12:49pm
JND (mail):
They'll muck things up in their ignorance of Texas' Administrative Law, just like the statewide prominent civil liberties attorneys are.
4.23.2008 12:49pm
Houston Lawyer:
While all of these children may ultimately be removed from their parents' care, I can see no reason to believe that any infants were in any danger.

Adding a few horses asses who claim to be civil liberties attorneys will not help this situation at all.

What happens to babies born after the initial raid? Do we continue taking all children born to this group? The law does not cope well with large groups of fanatics.
4.23.2008 12:59pm
Brennan:
Amazing. I am aware of no allegations that there was any abuse of children under 12 months - so why should they be separated from their mothers in order to "protect" them?

Once again, the world gets to marvel at the Texas "Justice" system.
4.23.2008 1:02pm
AntonK (mail):
Yes, where is the ACLU on this?
4.23.2008 1:05pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
I agree that it is unconscionable to tear a baby literally away from his mother's breast, absent the absolutely most compelling circumstances, which are not present here.

However, a couple of points on your more general characterizations. You state that the "marriages" are "religiously but not legally recognized." Have you actually looked at that issue? Texas has common law marriage, which they apparently call "informal marriage." I feel pretty safe assuming that most of these second and third and fourth marriages would constitute legal common law marriages under the Texas criteria.

As for your emphasis on the state's making "every attempt" to keep siblings together, as I understand it part of the difficulty is determining which children are actually siblings to each other, as the children are raised communally, in many ways. Plus, where you have 4 or 5 wives, each with 4 or 5 kids, you may be talking about groups of 20, 30, or even more siblings. It's not quite the same as separating a set of 3, 4, or 5 siblings.
4.23.2008 1:06pm
H Tuttle:
The entire situation in Texas concerning this case stinks to high heaven. If there were instances of abuse, absolutely investigate *them* and then act appropriately - here, however, this judge run amok seems to be a believer in a "we had to destroy the village to save the village" line of reasoning.
4.23.2008 1:06pm
lostmycookies (mail):
At least Janet Reno is not around to torch the kids to death. But the precedent set is too dangerous and someone should respond to DB's call for action. My gosh, what an arrogant, a-moral ho of a judge!

Btw, here are some details re the FLDS welfare bums. Although it does not change the civil rights analysis, it does reduce by a large degree my sympathy for these folks who suckle on the teet of the Republic.
4.23.2008 1:15pm
Jiminy (mail):
ACLU as regards this case:
http://www.sltrib.com/ci_8993551
4.23.2008 1:16pm
ejo:
any ideas if the teen pregnancy rate on the compound is any higher than the teen pregnancy rate in the nearest major urban school system to where anyone lives? mine's Chicago, the numbers are quite high and I guarantee the homicide rate is higher-anyone for taking all the children of CPS students away from their parents (lots of them are on welfare as well).
4.23.2008 1:21pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
Texas does not recognize more than one marriage per person.

However, Texas law does make it very difficult to sever the parent-child relationship.

There have been precious few facts revealed in this case, but it's starting to stink very badly. By what logic do they take children away from mothers because of putative marriages? If the mothers were under age to be married or to have sexual relations, how does this affect their role as a parent?

I guess here in Texas, you have to be careful if you're in a church other than baptists or catholics. Either the feds will incinerate your children, or the state will rip them from their mother's breast. Unbelievable.
4.23.2008 1:25pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
If there is really unlawful polygamy and statutory rape, then Texas should just prosecute it like a criminal case. The DNA evidence should be conclusive if there are really pregnant 14-year-olds. But having some goofy judge try to just hold the kids in the hopes of some future determination of the best interest of the children is a disaster.
4.23.2008 1:28pm
Kevin P. (mail):

Brennan:
Once again, the world gets to marvel at the Texas "Justice" system.

And once again, no thread is complete without a slam at Texas.

I actually have a little more faith that this situation will get resolved a little better here than if other states or the feds were involved. Remember a similar sect called the Branch Davidians?
4.23.2008 1:32pm
luagha:
I believe that this is the process of trying to figure out who to charge with the statutory rape. Many of the participants have similar names and appearances and engaged in exactly the kind of swapping-around that makes it difficult. Once they actually have paternity and identity and age locked down, it'll be pretty easy to write up the 50 year old men who knocked up 13 year old girls to have their babies at 14 for the statutory rape charges. And the ones who did it to multiple 13 year old girls are the ones to charge with unlawful polygamy.

Unfortunately, science takes time.
4.23.2008 1:38pm
luagha:
I believe that this is the process of trying to figure out who to charge with the statutory rape. Many of the participants have similar names and appearances and engaged in exactly the kind of swapping-around that makes it difficult. Once they actually have paternity and identity and age locked down, it'll be pretty easy to write up the 50 year old men who knocked up 13 year old girls to have their babies at 14 for the statutory rape charges. And the ones who did it to multiple 13 year old girls are the ones to charge with unlawful polygamy.

Unfortunately, science takes time.
4.23.2008 1:38pm
TheGut (mail):
Its about time someone at Volokh started blogging about this case! Its been a fiasco from the beginning. The government has totally ignored every rule and law that is suppose to protect people against wholesale fishing raids like these.
4.23.2008 1:46pm
Allen Asch (mail) (www):
4.23.2008 1:47pm
William D. Tanksley, Jr:
Quoting two different people:
"I feel pretty safe assuming that most of these second and third and fourth marriages would constitute legal common law marriages under the Texas criteria."

I doubt it -- most modern common law arrangements recognize only two spouses per marriage.

"I believe that this is the process of trying to figure out who to charge with the statutory rape."

How does confiscating children help to figure out whom to charge? Perhaps I could understand arresting all the men, although that's still suspicious in the absence of any specific charges... But separating the entire family?

This is going to cost the state a TON of money.
4.23.2008 1:47pm
Philistine (mail):

I believe that this is the process of trying to figure out who to charge with the statutory rape.


Fair enough.

But even assuming the general threat to children exists (as nearly as I can tell it is alleged to be indoctrination that underage sex/marriage is desirable, and potentially collusion)--what could possibly the reason to take nursing children away from mothers?
4.23.2008 1:49pm
wb (mail):
How about a few words about the abuse of the "lost boys" who are exploited for "voluntary" child labor and then kicked out of the compound so make room for the 50-year olds to have teenage wives. What high powered attorney's are protecting their interests?

Texas is doing just fine.
4.23.2008 1:50pm
common sense (www):
Medically, its much preferable to breast feed babies, even if the mother must work for 8 hours and pump milk for use instead of formula. Studies have shown life long effects, including intelligence and cancer risk. I question this judge's weighing of the best interests of the child here, although I do in many family law decisions. However, it is difficult to appeal these.
4.23.2008 2:02pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
But even assuming the general threat to children exists (as nearly as I can tell it is alleged to be indoctrination that underage sex/marriage is desirable, and potentially collusion)--what could possibly the reason to take nursing children away from mothers?

I'm not sure, but I am also not sure what the huge deal is either. As far as I know, breastfeeding confers real but very modest health benefits to babies. I doubt that there is any lasting damage done by a short period of formula feeding while the state figures out what the heck to do with all these kids. And if the state's allegations are well-founded, they really do have to do everything possible to ensure that the kids aren't raised in that belief system as that will perpetuate the abuse cycle.
4.23.2008 2:08pm
Patrick216:
All I can say is that I hope that the mainline LDS church steps up to the plate and rehabilitates these children. Since LDS has, at minimum, considerable influence over the State of Utah, they should have nipped FLDS in the bud 50 years ago. Instead, they allowed the movement to grow to tens of thousands of people (complete with their own city!), and now it's out of hand.

My understanding is that FLDS is a cult whose leaders (a small collection of men) have multiple wives and hordes of children, and apparently they kick almost all the young boys out to preserve the male:female ratio they need to keep the polygamy cult going. This kind of activity is very dangerous and is something that Utah should never have allowed to fester.

But, the LDS church and their proxies in the State of Utah did nothing. Why not? Because they're squeamish about the polygamy issue which, I understand from some mainline LDS friends, is still a touchy (if rarely discussed) subject in the church. That's wrong and I hope they right that wrong.
4.23.2008 2:11pm
calmom:
The unstated reason behind not letting the mothers stay in foster care with the infants could be that the judge and the state fear that the mothers will abscond with the infants to Colorado City or to some other Warren Jeffs outpost. It would be difficult for the foster family to monitor the mothers and infants at all hours. Frankly, women who would permit their 13, 14 and 15 year old daughters to be sexually abused by old men don't deserve any sympathy.
4.23.2008 2:11pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Dilan, I suspect that waterboarding will do less permanent harm than taking infants away from their mothers (putting aside the breastfeeding issue), but you seem very exercised about that.
4.23.2008 2:17pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Calmom: How could they abscond if the mothers would be in state custody? And let's stick to facts: the only allegations I've seen from the state is that some 16 year old girls (not 13) are pregnant.
4.23.2008 2:19pm
Stephen M (Ethesis) (mail) (www):
Texas ACLU is all over the map right now, but paying lots of attention.

For great local blogging:

http://gritsforbreakfast.blogspot.com/

if the teen pregnancy rate on the compound is any higher than the teen pregnancy rate in the nearest major urban school system to where anyone lives?

Actually it is lower, of course.

But, the LDS church and their proxies in the State of Utah did nothing.

Actually, that is false. What they did was the Short Creek raids, and that didn't work, so they switched to prosecuting the provable crimes.

Note to several comments: the monogamous families in the bunch have had their children taken away as well, not to mention families with a year or so age difference between spouses (or are you saying if a 17 year old is married to an 18 year old, the state should intervene?).

It is a mess. I'm conflicted about much of it, so I can't blame others who don't have a clear opinion.
4.23.2008 2:37pm
Stephen M (Ethesis) (mail) (www):
Dallas Morning News editorial:

Editorial
4.23.2008 2:38pm
GatoRat:
I chalk it up to naivete that people are defending the FLDS church in any way shape or form. As a long time watcher here in Utah, it is readily apparent that if there is such a thing as true evil, the FLDS church embodies it. This isn't a case of a few men abusing power, but an entire system that stinks. This goes beyond 12-16 year-old girls being forced into marriages, but of fathers raping their own daughters and mothers who facilitate it.

some 16 year old girls

Several of those old girls already have children. If a fifteen-year-old is pregnant with her third child, were the first two immaculate conceptions?

The amazing part is while prosecutors were running around putting people in jail on the flimsiest of evidence, there were groups, such as this, actually engaged in organized child abuse under the guise of religion. This is one step removed from sexual slavery.

(Don't get me wrong; I'm actually for legalizing polygamy for fully consenting adults--i.e. men and women 18 or older. If nothing else, it would give women legal recourse if they wish to leave.)
4.23.2008 2:43pm
theobromophile (www):
Breast feeding has health benefits, but my understanding is that the studies which correlated intellect to breast feeding never controlled for variables, such as parental income, socioeconomic status, and parent's intelligence. Smart, educated, wealthy people are more likely to breast feed, and, surprise surprise, they have smarter kids.

The Texas judge overseeing the polygamous FLDS sect's case refused Monday to make any ruling that would allow breast-feeding mothers to remain with their children in state custody

Do these mothers also include the pregnant or recently pregnant 16-year-olds? "Look, little girlie, while we investigate whether or not you were raped as a child, we're going to take your baby away from you."

"But every day in this country, we have mothers who go back to work after six weeks of maternity leave," she said.

SHE said!?!?! Last time I checked, women had a maternal instinct or something.... Let's not forget that those babies see their moms at night (sometimes during the day; a fair number of companies have on-site day care), get fed by them (perhaps with expressed milk), recognise their voices better than anyone else's....
4.23.2008 2:48pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
The statement in this post is not in tension with the judge's statement.

Someone claimed that the benefits of breast feeding were sufficiently substantial to outweigh the other reasons to remove the children from their parents.

The judge merely pointed out that not being breast feed is not in and of itself a huge harm to the child. This is correct and true. I suspect some commenters here with great loving were not breast feed very long as children without turning out all messed up.

The judge was not saying here that taking children away from their parents is no big deal only that not being breast feed is not a big deal.
4.23.2008 2:53pm
eddiehaskel (mail):
First, breast milk can be pumped. I think that the image of wresting a child from its mothers breast is a bit over the top for what is occurring in this instance.

But let's take this out of any religious context. If this were a single family where the children were exposed to the possibility of eventual abuse by their parents, doesn't some order of protection for the children seem appropriate.

Are these mothers capable of providing adequate care?

Spare me the hypocritical demands for ACLU representation or the gratuitous reference to Janet Reno. Is this a blog for person interested in the law or in inflammatory political rhetoric. It's difficult to tell many times, both by the topics chosen and the attitudes exposed.

When it comes to protecting children, caution would appear to be better than dogma or mere politicized ranting.
4.23.2008 2:53pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Dilan, I suspect that waterboarding will do less permanent harm than taking infants away from their mothers (putting aside the breastfeeding issue), but you seem very exercised about that.

I suspect you are dead, dead wrong about that, Professor Bernstein, at least when we are talking about infants. Adoptions don't appear to be particularly traumatizing events, for instance.

(And by the way, what's with the snark about waterboarding? I "seem" very exercised about that? Professor, the issue with waterboarding has more to do with binding international treaties and centuries of law on the issue of torture than it has to do with what I get "exercised" about. If you want to forthrightly defend torture, I look forward to it-- but considering the enormity of the issue, treating it with snark seems totally inapporpriate and insensitive.)

As I said, though, the bigger problem is that the Texas officials need to sort this all out to ensure that these kids don't get raised in this abusive lifestyle. Even if we assume that a separation between mother and infant is harmful, it's probably justified in this situation.
4.23.2008 2:54pm
calmom:
The articles are a bit unclear but it appears that the nursing mothers wanted to stay with their infants when they are moved to foster care. Yes they are in state custody but does that involve the same monitoring as they have now while they are housed in the San Angelo coliseum. In other words, will there be alarms on the doors or security guards in these foster homes that could prevent the adult mothers from taking the infants out of the jurisdiction?

Obviously each individual case will have to be examined on each families particular facts, but raising a child in an environment in which young girls are sexually abused is the very definition of an unfit parent.
4.23.2008 2:55pm
Philistine (mail):

Do these mothers also include the pregnant or recently pregnant 16-year-olds? "Look, little girlie, while we investigate whether or not you were raped as a child, we're going to take your baby away from you."



Actually, they don't. From the 1st linked article: "Walther ordered that mothers who are minors be placed with their babies;"
4.23.2008 2:56pm
Wugong:
And once again, no thread is complete without a slam at Texas.

Did I somehow miss Texas being a frequent target of Volokh threads? Not something I've ever noticed here.
4.23.2008 2:56pm
Fub:
Dilan Esper wrote at 4.23.2008 1:08pm:
And if the state's allegations are well-founded, they really do have to do everything possible to ensure that the kids aren't raised in that belief system as that will perpetuate the abuse cycle.
All other possible civil liberties considerations aside, I think that if this reasoning is accepted as a legal rationale, we can kiss the First Amendment goodbye. If the First Amendment protects anything, it protects the right of a parent to voice opinions and beliefs to his or her child, regardless of how odious anyone, including the government, might find those opinions or beliefs.

This rationale goes far beyond ordinary and accepted exceptions to First Amendment free speech protections.
4.23.2008 2:57pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Let's put it this way, Dilan. I'd rather be waterboarded many times over rather than have my infant taken away from me. Exactly what have these mothers done to their babies? Answer: nothing.

If this religion is actually a criminal conspiracy by the "elders" to abuse children, prosecute them for that, which would break up the "belief system" soon enough. But how is it helping under-5 kids to tear them away from their moms in the meantime?

It's amazing how any allegation of "child abuse" makes people lose all sense of proportion. (I remember myself being outraged at the Branch Dividians years ago--until I later learned that the allegations of child abuse were made up retroactively to justify the BATF's irresponsible behavior.)

Kind of like the way some people think that shouting "terrorist" removes all moral boundaries.
4.23.2008 3:04pm
Eph:
Some of the more more odius accusations, especialy marriage of minors makes it hard to be sympathetic for the FLDS. But this case is typical of the unjust and harmful policies which are standard procedure for Child Protective Services (CPS) nationwide.

First, for an infant, especially one breastfeeding, to be away from his mother for an extended period (i.e. days) is very stressful. A period of bottlefeeding might make it impossible for breastfeeding to resume.

A broader point to consider is that these children are being put in foster care. Foster care does no compare to a mother's attention in terms of the time devoted to the children. Will a foster parent hold a fussy baby for two hours? Drop everything to change a dirty diaper right away? While some foster parents are highly consicientious and some parents abysmal, very young children, who ar the most time instensive to care for, will not be better off.

There are also risks to foster care, including of physical and sexual abuse.

These children are being taken from their parents without any evidence of abuse. The State does not have to demonstrate that a particular child has been abused or is in danger if it remains with the mother, especially since the mothers were willing to stay with their children in a location of the governments choosing and under supervision. It is harder for the government to take away your property than to take away your children.

Eph
4.23.2008 3:04pm
Philistine (mail):

As I said, though, the bigger problem is that the Texas officials need to sort this all out to ensure that these kids don't get raised in this abusive lifestyle. Even if we assume that a separation between mother and infant is harmful, it's probably justified in this situation.



Asumming this to be true (and it raises questions I'm not not entirely comfortable with, either way)--I still fail to see what danger a breastfeeding infant has from indoctrination (especially over the relatively short term of 40 days that seems to be at issue).

It's not really the breastfeeding part that gets me (though I think that compounds it), the child could be bottle-fed--its the fact that your taking an infant away from its mother for no good reason, so far as I can tell.

At least the reason that has been explicitly given does not seem to apply to infants--or if so, in only the most insignificant way.

Whereas, taking an infant away from a mother and putting it into foster care for 40 days seems--quite extreme, to say the least.
4.23.2008 3:15pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
I work in the child welfare system right now. I'd be furious if I had a judge like this--she's clearly willing to make false findings to justify her agenda.
4.23.2008 3:15pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
"Let's put it this way, Dilan. I'd rather be waterboarded many times over rather than have my infant taken away from me."

OK, who's volunteering to waterboard Bernstein?

Stepping away from the snark war for a moment, those familiar with the day-to-day operations of most Children's Protective Services Departments, in most jurisdictions are likely, for better or worse, not overwhelmingly surprised by this. Given the admittedly astonishing burden on the system that this proceeding represents and what I suspect is the level of logistical and financial support available to the local justice system to appoint counsel for even 4, or 40, let alone 400 kids or to arrange for supervised visitation for 400 kids, (and if I'm assuming wrong, someone tell me) this seems to be a no-win for the judge.


I'm inferring that there's (a)at least some evidence that some number of substantially underage girls were impregnated by much older men, who were almost certainly not their legal husbands; (b) some inclination of Tx juvenile dependency/abuse/neglect courts to not leave minor children in the custody of, or subject to access by suspected sex offenders (c) a further inclination to not leave kids in the hands of otherwise innocent parents who expose the children to others (even spouses) whom the innocent parent had some reason to believe was "a child abuser", whether the risk pertained to the specific child in question or not. . .
4.23.2008 3:22pm
Carolina:
Even assuming the worst allegations are true (and this is highly, highly doubtful at this point), there is only one real question: will the kids be better or worse off in foster care?

Does anyone here defending Texas CPS actually have experience with the foster care system? It is AWFUL. A child's home life would have to be truly terrifying indeed for the average foster placement to be an improvement.
4.23.2008 3:27pm
FWB (mail):
According to the Cornell Law website, Texas allows marriages for females as young as 13 and males as young as 14 with parental permission and a judge's OK.

We have become more parochial as we has supposedly become more liberal. My ggggmother was married at 14 to my 21 yr old ggggfather. In fact, if one checks, one will probably find a number of instances of very young females marrying during the 18th and 19th centuries and sometimes to much older men. Within the last 2-3 months a research article appeared (I can't recall where at the moment) that studied older man/younger woman marriages throughout the world. And they are quite common, providing a better chance at reaching adulthood because of the wealth of the old guy marrying the young chick, who can make a lot of babies.

Interestly we allow serial polygamy in this country but we violate the religious practices of much of the world by following the Christian practice of 1 man to 1 woman.

Who will stand up, when they come for you?
4.23.2008 3:29pm
FWB (mail):
BTW, the actions here are not just the Texas Legal System. The blatant behavior of the judge/legal system in this case is the rule in the US. While still better than much of the world, the government continues to place themselves in a position of superiority rather than behaving as the servants they actually are.
4.23.2008 3:32pm
calmom:
Marriage at 16 to your boyfriend is one thing. Forced marriage through coercion and brainwashing is quite another.

Isn't it the usual practice for all children to be removed from an abusive home even when just one child has been abused? The only difference here is the number of children.
4.23.2008 3:34pm
Extraneus (mail):
I suppose we can look forward to the day that this type of precedent is applied to a tight-knit American Muslim community, say in Dearborn, MI.
4.23.2008 3:34pm
theobromophile (www):
"Non-minor" mothers still doesn't get you to child abuse. If the mother is 20, she's not a minor, but she doesn't have kids old enough who have been neglected.
4.23.2008 3:35pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
Dilan Esper wrote at 4.23.2008 1:08pm:
And if the state's allegations are well-founded, they really do have to do everything possible to ensure that the kids aren't raised in that belief system as that will perpetuate the abuse cycle.
If the parents are committing crimes, then there is plenty of time to put them in jail before the next generation perpetuates the crimes. If the parents are not committing crimes, then what's the problem?
4.23.2008 3:36pm
Sean M:
I understand that there is a lot not to like about this case, but I think you have to be sympathetic to the judge and attorneys here.

I mean, how would you like to find out you got this case from the wheel? It must be a logistical nightmare.
4.23.2008 3:47pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
There is zero chance of this judge to satisfactorily handle over 400 cases.

The original group "hearing" certainly turned into the chaos you would expect. I read that she is going to have over 400 individual "hearings" by June 2. Assuming she starts at the beginning of May, that is over 20 a day. At that rate, if all the names are spelled correctly on the dockets, it will be a victory. Chances of making well reasoned decisions? Not likely.
4.23.2008 3:48pm
Eph:
From the Dallas Morning News Op-Ed:

"In Eldorado, no one alleges YFZ parents are themselves abusing children. Instead the allegation (in court, at least) is that they're teaching their kids that a woman's highest calling is giving birth and raising children and that it's acceptable to get married at an early age. Even if it were true, and the allegation was disputed, can this really be enough to seize children from their homes?"

The following are common risk factors used by CPS.

1. Home schooling
2. A large number of children (more than 3 or 4)
3. Children born close together
4.23.2008 3:52pm
ejo:
is it also naive to demand that evidence be presented or is your assertion that FLDS fathers are raping their children sufficient to justify any act? this reeks quite strongly of many other witchhunts that get to the press, all without evidence. if evidence exists, one can act on it. if it doesn't (and it does not appear that any exists here), the Court should stay away.
4.23.2008 3:53pm
Dan Hamilton:

Does anyone here defending Texas CPS actually have experience with the foster care system? It is AWFUL. A child's home life would have to be truly terrifying indeed for the average foster placement to be an improvement.


What NOBODY is talking about is the culture-shock that these children will go through. They know next to nothing about Modern culture, especially TEEN culture. And CPS is going to put these children in Foster homes and in PUBLIC schools!!! Talk about Lambs to the slaughter.

Please think about this for a minute. It is bad enough when a child or teen is placed in Foster Care. With these children the culture shock is going to be so much greater that no one can predict what will happen. But whatever happens it almost certainly will be very bad.

Would anyone here care to bet on how many of these 437 children will be abused and/or pregnant after a year of CPS's care??? Even IF the girls are being wed early with parental consent, after a year with CPS it will be proved that the children would have been FAR, FAR better off if CPS had left them alone.

But of course we will NEVER hear a word about what happened to these children after they disappear into CPS limbo. Just like it is impossible to find out what happens now to children in CPS's care. They must protect the children so they can't give out that data. Yea Right!! CPS will protect their asses no matter what happens to children in their care.
4.23.2008 3:56pm
TheGut (mail):
Actually, when the FLDS first moved into Texas, the age of marriage was 16 with or without parental consent. It was 14 with a parents permission. And, look at this


Utah lessons applied in raid has

"
Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, the sponsor of the legislation, says his bill gave authorities the legal basis to enter the compound. He argues that the girl whose outcry of abuse resulted in the raid may not have qualified as a victim under previous statutes. Before 2005, Texas law allowed girls as young as 14 to marry with the permission of their parents.

"We know based on some of the cases — the main case — the girl is 16 now, but we know that she wasn't 16 when she was impregnated," Hilderbran said. "This is a good policy change that led to intervention by the state."

Hilderbran's law upgraded the penalties for polygamy from misdemeanor to felony and raised the minimum age that minors with parents' permission can marry from 14 to 16."
4.23.2008 4:08pm
pete (mail) (www):
So are any of these parents being prosecuted for neglect for the teenage boys that get kicked out of the community to fend for themselves?
4.23.2008 4:10pm
john w (mail):
It's time for a nationally prominent civil liberties attorney to get involved.

Amen to that !!! By the way: Does anybody know if a Legal Defense Fund has been established for these people?

It is just unbelievable to me that this is happening in the United States of America, and nobody (other than a few libertarian bloggers) seems to give a damn. This smells even worse than the satanic child abuse witch-hunts of the 1980's. If the "child protection" Nazis can get away with seizing these children of such a flimsy pretext, then nobody's children are safe from them.
4.23.2008 4:26pm
whit:
the thing that amazes me about this case is that they issued a search (and arrest?) warrants based on an ANONYMOUS phone call?

that wouldn't fly where i work that's for sure.

also, fwiw sex with minors by adults may be distasteful to some but it isn't illegal, depending on the state. when i lived in hawaii, the age of consent was 14. 40 with 14 was legal. 40 with 13 would get you serious jail time. arbitrary? sure. but the law has to be sometimes.
4.23.2008 4:31pm
Deoxy (mail):
I hate this case.

1. FLDS has a well-documented history of treating women girls as property, sex-slaves, baby-factories, etc. What was going on there in those terms was almost certainly bad (though in many other ways, it was probably better than much of the rest of society...)

2. The government has a well-documented history of making stuff up after the fact to justify what they already did.

3. "Does anyone here defending Texas CPS actually have experience with the foster care system? It is AWFUL. A child's home life would have to be truly terrifying indeed for the average foster placement to be an improvement."

So, SO true. I persoanlly wouldn't report someone to CPS unless they were torturing their children, and even then, I would have to think long and hard about it. And yes, this is based on the experiences of several friends of mine, not just spouting off. CPS in this country is a heinous, evil thing.


So, I don't trust either side, I think bad things were going on (which need to be stopped), but the "solution" is also bad (for many different reasons, many of them mentioned in this thread).

Yuck.
4.23.2008 4:35pm
Deoxy (mail):
Here, let me fix this for you:

If the "child protection" Nazis can get away with seizing these children of such a flimsy pretext, then and nobody's only the powerful and/or politically connected children are safe from them.


It's been that way for years. Glad you noticed.
4.23.2008 4:39pm
Kent G. Budge (mail) (www):
"But, the LDS church and their proxies in the State of Utah did nothing."

What do you expect the LDS Church to do? The LDS Church has only a distant historical connection with these groups. Mormons who enter into polygamous marriages are excommunicated, and have been since about 1910. Is there something else the Church could be doing that would not cross the line from the ecclesiastical sphere to the secular?

As for the government of Utah being a proxy for the LDS Church: That turns out not to be the case. As early as the 1930s, Utah voters ignored the pleas of Church leaders and voted to repeal Prohibition. The influence of the Church on the culture in Utah is very significant, but the influence on politics is far less than many non-Utahans seem to believe.

I note that these folks left Utah for Texas. I also note that Colorado City, the main polygamist enclave in Utah, straddles the Arizona border, making enforcement of state law that much more problematic. That is not a historical accident. The idea that mainstream LDS in Utah are colluding with the polygamist groups is, in a word, silly.
4.23.2008 4:44pm
anym_avey (mail):
Interestly we allow serial polygamy in this country but we violate the religious practices of much of the world by following the Christian practice of 1 man to 1 woman.

Uh, well, yes...when your religion is one of the Big Three and all three have differing interpretations, you automatically find yourself at odds with "much of the world". That's not exactly a novel or helpful observation, however.

The more relevant of your observations is the country's descent into practical polygamy while still trying to maintain face about the importance and sanctity of marriage, which rather makes a joke of both.
4.23.2008 5:03pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Stripping the kids from their mothers and warehousing them is intolerable no matter how repellent we find polygamy or marrying teenagers to old men who can't afford to feed all their children. I'm glad the ACLU got involved.

The article linked to mentioned "state welfare" but welfare is administered at the county level as far as I know. It does specifically mention food stamps and WIC, but both of those are federal USDA programs. WIC applies only to pregnant women and women who have recently given birth, and to children under five. But I can't picture someone getting pregnant just to get her hands on some WIC food: WIC foods include iron-fortified infant formula and infant cereal, iron-fortified adult cereal, vitamin C-rich fruit or vegetable juice, eggs, milk, cheese, peanut butter, dried beans/peas, tuna fish and carrots.
4.23.2008 5:21pm
hattio1:
Wow,
So much to respond to. First, let me say I, for one of a few times, agree with Professor Bernstein.

Dilan Esper says;

I doubt that there is any lasting damage done by a short period of formula feeding


But, it won't be a short period because once they stop breastfeeding, the mother's can't re-start. I suppose in theory the State of Texas could supply all the mothers with breast pumps, but its not going to happen.

Another commenter, I don't remember who, said that people shouldn't be "defending" these people because the system is evil. I agree with you, the system is evil. However, that system does far less damage to our government than the State thinking they can do whatever they want. Unfortunately, this is an example of the lesser of two evils. In this case I would absolutely approve of the State of Texas prosecuting those who have committed crimes...but that's not what they're doing.
4.23.2008 5:25pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Extran.
I'll be watching Dearborn for you. Check in for half-hourly updates.
4.23.2008 5:39pm
great unknown (mail):
Re: the anonymous 16-year-old caller who called the police for help. The latest indications are that it was a fraudulent call by a Colorado woman who has previously been charged with fraudulent reporting. A totally irrelevant datum: she is reported to be an Obama delegate. Let the conspiracy theories blossom like a thousand flowers.
4.23.2008 5:42pm
pete (mail) (www):

The article linked to mentioned "state welfare" but welfare is administered at the county level as far as I know. It does specifically mention food stamps and WIC, but both of those are federal USDA programs. WIC applies only to pregnant women and women who have recently given birth, and to children under five.


In Texas welfare is administered at a regional level by the state. In Texas a lot of counties are sparsely populated with many having less then 10,000 residents and a few having less than 1,000 residents. The state has 254 counties.
4.23.2008 5:44pm
john w (mail):
when i lived in hawaii, the age of consent was 14. 40 with 14 was legal. 40 with 13 would get you serious jail time. arbitrary? sure. but the law has to be sometimes.

Ok, there may be times when the law has to be arbitrary. But the question of when a child -- especially a female -- becomes an adult does not have to be arbitrary. There is a logical, natural criterion for deciding, and it's known as puberty.

The whole idea of regarding 14 to 18 year olds as "children" is absurd, and it's something very recent in human history. I mean, for tens of thousands of years, 14 year old women have been marrying and raising their own families, and they must have been successful at it or else we wouldn't be here to discuss the question.

I've known plenty of 14 year old girls ( NOT necessarily in the Biblical sense, I hasten to add!) and they are not helpless babies; they are perfectly capable of making rational decisions and running their lives, and telling anybody to go to Hell when they want to.

Calling adolescents 'children' just one more example of the government's increasingly successful effort to infantilize everybody.
4.23.2008 5:44pm
Gaius Marius:
This case is nothing more than pure religious persecution -- plain and simple.
4.23.2008 5:45pm
Cornellian (mail):
"Let's put it this way, Dilan. I'd rather be waterboarded many times over rather than have my infant taken away from me."
OK, who's volunteering to waterboard Bernstein?


I'd rather waterboard Bernstein than take his kid away from him. I just can't see a basis for separating newborn infants at no apparent risk from their mothers who haven't even been accused of harming them.
4.23.2008 5:45pm
Andy C.:
Although I find the concept of child marriage to be disgusting, didn't the Prophet Muhammed have a 9-year old wife? Didn't King Edward I have a 12-year old wife? Weren't Romeo and Juliet 13? Didn't country star Loretta Lynn marry at 13?

Also, how about these sections taken from classical books:

By the Shores of Silver Lake, a sequel to Little House on the Prairie:

"Yes, Lizzie got married yesterday," Lizzie's mother said proudly. "Her pa says thirteen's pretty young, but she's got her a good man and I say it's better to settle down young. I was married young myself."

Rose Wilder Lane, wrote a book called Old Home Town, based on her experiences growing up in Missouri in the late 19th century. In it she similarly describes several girls married before the age of sixteen, in one case to a much older man.

In Gone With the Wind, based on the experiences of Margaret Mitchell's grandmother, the average age of marriage of the female characters is something slightly under sixteen.
4.23.2008 5:58pm
lurker-999 (mail):
Although I find the concept of child marriage to be disgusting, didn't the Prophet Muhammed have a 9-year old wife? Didn't King Edward I have a 12-year old wife? Weren't Romeo and Juliet 13? Didn't country star Loretta Lynn marry at 13?

And for the Christians in the audience: If the Virgin Mary was a typical Jewish girl of her era, she was probably about 15 (or 16 at the most) when she gave birth to the Baby Jesus. And Joseph was probably in his late twenties or thirties.
4.23.2008 6:09pm
hattio1:
John w says;

There is a logical, natural criterion for deciding [the age of consent], and it's known as puberty.


Would that be the beginning of, or the end of? What criteria should we use to measure it?
4.23.2008 6:10pm
calmom:
You are all assuming that these girls are in love with these old men and are consenting freely and fully in these marriages. Romeo and Juliet, please. This is child rape, gussied up as 'marriage'.
4.23.2008 6:24pm
Dave N (mail):
I lived for almost a decade in Utah. I am not LDS--never have been and never will be. That said, to suggest that the LDS Church should be held responsible for not suppressing the FLDS is ridiculous.

I have little sympathy for the FLDS, their fanatical leaders, or their bizarre theology. Indeed, I find almost everything about the FLDS repugnant.

However, I am deeply disturbed by this case. Parental autonomy is a cornerstone of our society. The State should interfere only when children are in imminent need of protection--imminent meaning NOW, or at the very least, in the very, very near future.

However much I find the FLDS loathsome, unless there is evidence of imminent abuse, the State should not tear families asunder. Another poster had it exactly right--these children have been raised in a very sheltered society where they have not had much exposure to outside influences. While I think that is undesirable, I also worry about the psychological harm resulting from prolonged removal and the culture shock.
4.23.2008 6:31pm
ejo:
could you come up with some proof of that please, or are you the equivalent of the Texas folks who don't need it due to your "wisdom"? if the whole matter was initiated by an anonymous call from Colorado (by a black lady, not a former FLDS'er), the entire situation is based on a lie-or, in the alternative, do you feel an anonymous phone call would be sufficient to take away your children?
4.23.2008 6:33pm
davidbernstein (mail):
My recollection is that a rabbi in the Talmud says that it's best if a boy is married by age 16 (or was it 18?), so he "can say to the Devil, an arrow in your eye." (That evocative language stuck with me).
4.23.2008 6:53pm
DeputyHeadmistress (mail) (www):


The judge has changed her mind and is allowing infants 12 months and younger to stay with their moms- whether in foster care or at home I can't say.
children 12-24 months are now to be placed in homes within the area so their mothers can visit them- which is also a welcome change. The state's own witness, a psychiatrist who testified that he got his information about FLDS almost entirely from the media and two former members he'd spoken to in the days before the hearing, said that it would be harmful to separate the babies from their mothers and that the younger children were only in danger of being taught 'unhelpful' beliefs, not physical harm. He admitted the children were loved, cared for affectionately, and that their mothers are attentive and not abusive.

The state has presented in court only the records of 10 girls from 16-19 that it says are 'wives.' Only five of them are pregnant or have children. At least one of the attorneys claims that some of the other girls are older cases- some of the 'teen brides' the state alleges are actually no longer teens, but were married before Texas changed the law for the express purpose of regulating FLDS out of the state.

The state also held the hearings each family should have gotten in one large group- treating the entire community as a single household, even though one of the children is the son of a single woman - 56 years old, three are the children of a monogamous couple (married as adults, the wife is an EMT), and one is a Canadian child visiting her grandmother.

Because she treated the entire group as a single unit, CPS did not discover (and so did not assign lawyers to) an extra 21 children in their custody and an extra 13 adult mothers also staying at the refugee camp the state created until after the hearing.

Many people (including CPS) have accused the FLDS of withholding their identity or giving false information. This is probably true in some cases. But in other cases their attorneys testified that the mothers had birth certificates, social security numbers, and even tax returns, but the state was refusing to believe them. The judge ruled that they didn't have to accept the identification offered by these mothers because in these days of identity theft, it might all be forged. So because some people somewhere have been shown to have false identification, she treated these mothers as though they were guilty. That was her basis for ordering the DNA testing (which was begun on the children without notifying anybody, including their lawyers).
I also wonder who they are allegedly so accomplished at bilking the government of welfare dollars without any I.D. that CPS can find. It's ludicrous on teh face of it- either this group is NOT bilking the government of welfare dollars or it is NOT hiding the identity of mothers and children from the state.

Also, while there have been cases of abandoned children in the FLDS communities in Arizona and Utah- nobody, not even the state, has thus far accused any of *these* Texas parents of abandoning any of the 'lost boys.'

Also, the percentage of underaged girls involved with adult men in FLDS is decidedly smaller than that nationwide- or even in half the counties in Texas. In CA 70 percent of ALL teen pregnancies involve adult men, and nationwide it's far more than half of teenaged pregnancies that are legally statutory rape.

Clearly, we have a double standard here.

I think all adult males who beget children on under-aged girls should be charged with their crimes- but the state of Texas has given the guilty parties in FLDS, if there are any, plenty of time to flee the state, and it's not the men who have been held against their will in housing conditions even CPS admits are 'untenable.'

I do not approve of FLDS religious practices or teachings, but this abuse of power by the state of Texas and CPS is horrifying.
4.23.2008 7:02pm
Christian Prophet (mail):
Do not allow your preconceived ideas to color your judgment. I lived in a foster home, a Christian boys' home, and a state school for boys. All were hell. Help free these children. See:
http://christianprophecy.blogspot.com/
4.23.2008 7:11pm
Jen:
I'm with calmom on this one. For everyone romanticizing child brides through the ages, here is a summary of the testimony of an FLDS girl married off at 16 to someone she hadn't met before:

http://www.sltrib.com/polygamy/ci_3673667

I'm seeing the coercion there, but not the consent.

However, for the record, I'm still not sure about the necessity of separating nursing babies from their mothers unless there are facts that suggest that the mothers are likely to take the kids and disappear.
4.23.2008 8:09pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
All other possible civil liberties considerations aside, I think that if this reasoning is accepted as a legal rationale, we can kiss the First Amendment goodbye. If the First Amendment protects anything, it protects the right of a parent to voice opinions and beliefs to his or her child, regardless of how odious anyone, including the government, might find those opinions or beliefs.

I doubt this is so. For instance, I would assume that the authorities would find a lawful way to remove children from a home in which they were being raised to be Columbine-style school shooters.

Look, this needs to be separated out. To the extent FLDS parents want to read The Book of Mormon to their kids, sure, that's protected. To the extent they are telling their kids that they need to get married at 14 years old as a plural wife of an old man whom they don't know, I don't see how that sort of thing is within the free exercise of religion.
4.23.2008 8:20pm
john w (mail):
John w says;
There is a logical, natural criterion for deciding [the age of consent], and it's known as puberty.

Would that be the beginning of, or the end of? What criteria should we use to measure it?


+++++++++++++++++++++++

OK, so there is always going to be a little bit of unavoidable arbitrariness in any binary decision. Fine. But I'm saying that there is a big difference between (a) arbitrariness that tries to stay grounded in reality, vs. (b) arbitrariness that is *totally* arbitrary.

Mother Nature has decreed that girls turn into women somewhere between, what? 12 and 14 years of age, more or less. So it would be perfectly reasonable for the State to pick a legal "age of consent" somewhere within that bracket. And reasonable people could sit around and disagree about whether it should be, say 13 or 14. But where does the figure of 16 or 18 come from? And if the State can arbitrarily decree that 17.99 year olds are still "children," then why not 21 year olds, or even 25 year olds?

And by the way: My objections extend beyond merely sex-related questions. Why in the hell isn't a 15 year old male allowed to go out and get a job driving a tractor, if he wants to? Or become a surveyor like George Washington. The Nanny State is turning us into a nation of helpless infants.
4.23.2008 8:21pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Let's put it this way, Dilan. I'd rather be waterboarded many times over rather than have my infant taken away from me. Exactly what have these mothers done to their babies? Answer: nothing.

While I completely understand your point, the problem with this analysis, Professor Bernstein, is that the standard is what is in the child's best interest, not yours.

And as far as what the mothers have done, that is too narrow an analysis. If the mothers are operating within a system that systemically harms the children, and the state can prove that, fixing individual culpability seems to me to be rather irrelevant.

(I remember myself being outraged at the Branch Dividians years ago--until I later learned that the allegations of child abuse were made up retroactively to justify the BATF's irresponsible behavior.)

I agree with you about Waco. But I am struck with how different this is-- everything seems to be taking place with full legal process, unlike Janet Reno's extrajudicial killing spree.
4.23.2008 8:25pm
hattio1:
The reason I asked, John W, is because the onset of puberty is often equated, in females, with the onset of a monthly cycle. This is NOT always between 12 and 14. It's becoming more and more common in younger and younger girls. I believe its no longer rare (as in a minority, but not a shocking anomaly) in 8 and 9 year olds. I don't have a problem with the state saying 8 and 9 years olds (or even 12 and 13 year olds) can't really make these decisions on their own.
4.23.2008 8:27pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
But, it won't be a short period because once they stop breastfeeding, the mother's can't re-start. I suppose in theory the State of Texas could supply all the mothers with breast pumps, but its not going to happen.

Even if that is true, though, the benefits of breastfeeding exist but are on the margins; plenty of formula fed babies grow up just fine. It isn't likely in any individual case to harm a baby substantially by switching to formula. (And if we really want to fix this, I'd be all in favor of Texas adopting a foster wet nurse program.)

And put in legal terms, I doubt the standard for when the state can do this should turn on whether the mother is breastfeeding anyway. Whatever protection breastfeeding mothers should get, formula feeding mothers should get too.
4.23.2008 8:33pm
Jimmy S.:
Jen, would you trust a Republican to tell you all about the Democrats (or vice versa)?

Than why are you so willing to assume everything you hear about the FLDS (spoken by their ideological opponents) is correct?
4.23.2008 8:35pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Dilan,

I'm sure you're not arguing that it's in the best short-term interest of a 10 month old infant, or a two-year old child, to be forcibly separated from his mother because she might later teach her she should get married at 14. If the issue is the long-run best interest of the child, I doubt the First Amendment allows what you teach to a child while you are not physically or emotionally abusing her to be grounds for termination of parental rights. But even if it does, the state could keep the kids with their moms for now, and later, if after due judicial process it's found that the environment is legally abusive, give the moms the choice of leaving the "compound" or giving up their kids. We shouldn't buy into the myth that foster care is somehow a reasonable subsitute for parental care, nor should we take the toll on the mothers, who again don't seem to have done anything illegal, lightly.
4.23.2008 8:41pm
Guy Murray (mail) (www):
Welcome Volokh,

Where have you been?
4.23.2008 8:49pm
DeputyHeadmistress (mail) (www):
The fathers offered to leave the ranch and let the mothers and children stay there. The state refused.

In course every mother who testified offered to leave the ranch and their husbands and live alone with their children. The mother of three who has an EMT license (which she says she pursued over her husband's objections) was not given that option- she's not polygamous, she can support herself, and nobody has claimed she did anything abusive. Her kids are in foster care.
4.23.2008 8:58pm
Jen:
Jimmy S.,

The story I linked to was a summary of grand jury testimony that led to the indictment of Warren Jeffs. As you may know, Mr. Jeffs was later convicted on 2 counts of rape as an accomplice in the forced marriage of a 14 year old girl to her 19 year old first cousin. Of course this was only a "spiritual marriage" because first cousins are not legally allowed to marry in that state. The former child bride testified that she had begged not to be married, but that Jeffs proceeded anyway and she was subsequently raped by her new "husband".

The court decided that the conviction was warranted- it is not a matter of me being swayed by "ideological opponents." Although if you are counting the girls that testified that they were forced into marriage against their will as "ideological opponents" then I suppose you may call me (and the court) swayed.

Are you arguing that Mr. Jeffs was wrongly convicted?
4.23.2008 9:11pm
mlstx (mail):
One commenter says: And if the state's allegations are well-founded, they really do have to do everything possible to ensure that the kids aren't raised in that belief system as that will perpetuate the abuse cycle.

Another commenter replies: If the First Amendment protects anything, it protects the right of a parent to voice opinions and beliefs to his or her child, regardless of how odious anyone, including the government, might find those opinions or beliefs.

And if the parents are pedophiles who are grooming their children to accept sex with adults upon reaching puberty?

We wrap all this up in religion and family, but it is little different from the way pedophiles commonly groom children to accept their depravity as normal and natural. If these children were being raised by NAMBLA, I bet the reaction here would be MUCH different . . . .
4.23.2008 9:25pm
MadHatChemist:
mlstx wrote:

If these children were being raised by NAMBLA, I bet the reaction here would be MUCH different . . . .


Exactly! Who would have a problem with members of the North American Marlon Brando Look Alikes raising children?
4.23.2008 9:28pm
LM (mail):
Since the judge's orders seem at least legally arguable, maybe legally justified, how would those who object change the law to prevent this, without endangering children under what you'd consider an actual, imminent threat?
4.23.2008 9:29pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
This case presents a shocking example of a bureaucracy run amok. On the basis of flimsy evidence, which turned out to be completely bogus, the state kidnapped children including children of tender years from their families. What happened to the 4th Amendment? What happened to due process? Did the parents get a chance to rebut the state's psychiatric expert? Any parent should cringe at thought of what happened here. I leave you with a quote from Orwell's 1984.
"Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves."


This is what you get when you let the government get out of control.
4.23.2008 9:34pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
I watched all of that trial that courttv broadcast and I would argue that the state did not put on a case that convinvced me.
4.23.2008 9:35pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I'm sure you're not arguing that it's in the best short-term interest of a 10 month old infant, or a two-year old child, to be forcibly separated from his mother because she might later teach her she should get married at 14. If the issue is the long-run best interest of the child, I doubt the First Amendment allows what you teach to a child while you are not physically or emotionally abusing her to be grounds for termination of parental rights. But even if it does, the state could keep the kids with their moms for now, and later, if after due judicial process it's found that the environment is legally abusive, give the moms the choice of leaving the "compound" or giving up their kids.

I am not sure this is correct.

First, on the First Amendment point, I am not familiar with a lot of law in this area, but it seems to me that if you have a system in which children are homeschooled or privately schooled and not exposed in some other way to competing ideas, the state has very strong interests, much stronger than when parents present their views in the context of children who are exposed to other views.

I realize this isn't a concession that a libertarian would want to make, but the problem is, groups like the FLDS depend on the fact that they are basically a closed system where children can be indoctrinated into the wicked belief system and it becomes very hard for them to escape. IF that allegation can be proven, it seems to me that it would withstand strict scrutiny because it would be absolutely necessary to override the wishes of the parents and take the kids out of the system, and there would be no less restrictive means of doing this.

As for the more prudential question of when this can occur, what exactly is the great benefit of leaving the children to bond with these mothers and then taking them away later? It seems to me that if you are going to remove the kids from the home, it's actually going to be less traumatic (for the children, whose interests count here) to do it as infants than to do it later on.
4.23.2008 9:41pm
Waldo (mail):
Here's a hand grenade for the debate:

Article 2

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: signed Dec 11, 1948, ratified 25 Nov 1988.

http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/p_genoci.htm

This US Reservation: "(2) That nothing in the Convention requires or authorizes legislation or other action by the United States of America prohibited by the Constitution of the United States as interpreted by the United States." seems to imply that Medellin v. Texas could hold the convention invalid in this case.

Also, this Understanding: "(1) That the term `intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group as such' appearing in article II means the specific intent to destroy, in whole or in substantial part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such by the acts specified in article II" might or might not apply.

http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/treaty1gen.htm

Awaiting comments.
4.23.2008 9:50pm
Gaius Marius:
Thank you, Waldo. As Shakespeare would note, "there is something rotten in the State of Texas."
4.23.2008 10:09pm
Waldo (mail):
FWIW:

My opinion is that any of the husbands of underaged wives should be prosecuted for bigamy and statutory rape. Depending on Texas' definition of bigamy, adult wives might be prosecuted for bigamy as well.

The state does have an interest in ensuring that people enter into marriage voluntarily. The state can also enforce the right to leave marriages or religious groups. This will likely make most polygamous groups untenable.

But I see no reason that underaged mothers who are allegedly victims should be punished by being forcibly separated from their children.
4.23.2008 10:18pm
Jimmy S.:
Jen -

1) In point of fact, the link you give is not the link that led to Jeffs' conviction. You cite a witness in an Arizona case. Jeffs was convicted in a Utah case.

2) I wasn't arguing it, but yes--as I read Utah law, and based on what I understand of Utah case law, Jeffs' conviction was based on a legal theory that was both novel, and dangerous for any clergyman who solemnizes a marriage that later goes sour. (I believe the case is on appeal at present; it'll be interesting to see how it turns out.) You might also be interested to know that a) the guy who allegedly committed the rape on the basis of which Jeffs was tried has still not been convicted; b) the victim's mother and sisters--who had more contact with her than Jeffs did, and who encouraged her to go through with the wedding--were never even charged; c) the victim was photographed on her wedding day, in her wedding dress, all smiles; and d) the FLDS wedding ceremony has a specific part where each party to the marriage must express their consent. Jeffs is creepy, and maybe even belongs in jail. But is this really the best the state can do?

3) The victim now has her own book out and is suing the FLDS church, apparently for in excess of one million dollars. Are you SURE you're willing to make broad generalizations about a group of people, and justify tearing their kids away from them, based on the statements of this victim and a few other women who have book deals, Oprah/Dr. Phil appearances, and multimillion dollar legal recoveries depending on their stories being as juicy and outrageous as possible?
4.23.2008 10:36pm
good strategy (mail):
"A cult is a religion with no political power" - Tom Wolfe.

I'm deeply uncomfortable with the notion that ideas and practices automatically gain currency when they are asociated with superstitions about supernatural beings or otherwise labeled religion.

If there was a cult that routinely seduced teenage _boys_ and covered it up with religious hoo-ha, I wonder if people would tolerate that under the first amendment the way many posters above apologize for the FDLS.

Oh wait, that's the Catholic Church, whose leader, a major participant in the cover-up, was just feted by our national political leadership.

Maybe religion is a cult WITH political power.

The lesson from VC today: if you want some of that young stuff, go start a "religion."

And yes, our society's attitude towards teenage sexuality is crazy in a historical context, but the psychological development of kids raised in the FDLS throws off all available models. It is a total environment.
4.23.2008 11:11pm
griefer (mail):
the judge was only required to have sincere belief that a crime had been committed. you know that Stephen.
the search was legal, whatever the status of the informant.

there are children who have born children, and who are pregnant with children.
there are children that are canadian citizens because there is a sister compound of the FLDS in canada.
the court is afraid of a mass flight to canada if the children are released to their mothers.

the FLDS have obfusticated or forged or destroyed birth certificates. DNA testing is the only way to determine who is a parent, and who is offspring.

this a community of 500 souls.
there are no innocents.... except the children.
the adults are either perps, enablers, or accomplices.
the community was complicit, get it?
4.23.2008 11:22pm
griefer (mail):
i have a question for you and your commenter.
are the members of FLDS christians?
why or why not?
4.23.2008 11:26pm
griefer (mail):
commenters
4.23.2008 11:27pm
TAF:
Where does Lawrence fit in with all this?
4.23.2008 11:32pm
DeputyHeadmistress (mail) (www):
Griefer, can I ask where I can find the sources for this accusation:
"the FLDS have obfusticated or forged or destroyed birth certificates. DNA testing is the only way to determine who is a parent, and who is offspring."

Even the judge did not make this claim. She speculated that because it was possible, she would prefer to have DNA. She never said they *had*. In fact, so far as I know, she didn't even look at any of the identification they offered.
4.23.2008 11:34pm
rrm (mail):
"First, on the First Amendment point, I am not familiar with a lot of law in this area, but it seems to me that if you have a system in which children are homeschooled or privately schooled and not exposed in some other way to competing ideas, the state has very strong interests, much stronger than when parents present their views in the context of children who are exposed to other views."

Please, please never enter government service. This is absolutely the most fearful thing on this thread. YOU do not know how to best raise my children. I DO NOT trust you to be able to make a wise decision. What gives you the right to determine what is in my best interest. STAY OUT OF MY FAMILY.

And while I'm at it, you said in a previous comment that adoptive infants have no ill effects from being removed from the mother. This is a naive statement from someone who has no idea of the topic--and yet, you feel you have the right to determine what is in my family's best interest if I'm a home schooler? Arrogance, pure and simple.
4.24.2008 12:07am
IANAL (mail):
According to the Cornell Law website, Texas allows marriages for females as young as 13 and males as young as 14 with parental permission and a judge's OK.

The minimum age for marriage in TX is 16. The law is here: http://tlo2.tlc.state.tx.us/statutes/fa.toc.htm

Are the remarks in that "scathing" editorial accurate? Getting away from the arguments about alternative lifestyles and slippery slopes, on the law I have some difficulty believing the custody scheme couldn't be squashed like a bug almost instantly if there wasn't pretty clear evidence of criminal activity. Which suggests to me that CPS has indeed found a few pregnant girls below the age of 16. As I understand it, under Texas law a pregnant 15 year old has, by definition, been raped. If those girls' mothers are actively trying to obstruct the investigation into the rape, and were clearly aware that it happened, should CPS nevertheless return their other children?
4.24.2008 12:18am
austin (mail):
I am a former foster parent in Texas with 18 kids behind me. I have followed this case closely and here is my take on this.

The big issue is that the adults are each and all under supsicion of child abuse ( statuatory rape ) because they either did it, abetted it, or knew about it and did nothing. In Texas each of these is a Felony.

In most of these kind of cases in Texas, juries hand down 15 years to Life. Let that sink in. DA's will use the LIFE part of previous cases to plea-bargain most parents into terminating their rights and for an easy 15 years.

LET.THAT.SINK.IN.

If the statuatory rape allegations hold, then this so-called cult is really a baby mill for jolly old men to be perverts. Sick and btw, a FELONY.


There are other facts in the case - to wit - children have admitted that both their parents are in other states and they have not been in contact with them for some time. Were these kids forcibly removed from their parents? It appears so in some cases.

If so, then the transportation of the kids is a Federal Kidnapping charge on top off all the state charges.

The Judge in the case is an ELECTED official answerable to the County that has juridiction. So is the DA. They get relected every two years. If they mess up, then the voters can throw them out. Its not the State nor is it the Feds. Its a local matter.

In closing, this is a very serious situation that involves all the adults. Texas is not a lenient place to engage in this stuff.
4.24.2008 12:54am
hM (mail):
are the members of FLDS christians?


As much as I deplore having to type this, yes, they are because they believe in Christ. And no, I'm not going to get dragged into a "they believe in a different Christ so they aren't really Christian" debate. Being LDS (note the lack of an F at the beginning) myself I've been in too many of those debates to want to rehash. At best it's a straw man argument that really doesn't deserve a reply.
4.24.2008 1:00am
mlstx (mail):

MadHatChemist wrote: Who would have a problem with members of the North American Marlon Brando Look Alikes raising children?


Are you kidding? The LAST thing we need is anyone who looks like Marlon Brando procreating!
4.24.2008 1:26am
davidbernstein (mail):
On the first Amendment point, even if what Dilan said is generally right, the government has a far more narrowly tailored solution available than terminating parental rights, which is to force the parents to send their kids to "school," or otherwise supervise their education.
4.24.2008 1:43am
david friedman (mail):
Two points worth mentioning that I don't think you discuss:

1. The legal justification for holding children who are not teenaged girls. The only argument I have seen, by a spokeswoman for the child protective people, was that the boys would be brought up to be abusers. So far as I can see, that amounts to arguing that a religion may be forcibly suppressed if it teaches people to do illegal things. Thus catholics could have their children taken away if they teach that it is proper to disobey certain laws, all Muslims must have their children taken away since they teach that both polygamy and marriage to women below the Texas age of consent are proper, et. multae caetera. By the same logic, communists can have their children
taken away to keep the children from being taught the desirability of violent revolution.

2. Perhaps I have missed but, I haven't seen in any U.S. mainline media a detailed account of the origin of the original phone call--something that appeared in the London Times online about four days ago. The facts as given there are absolutely clear. The Texas phone call was on March 29. On March 30, several days before the call had been made public, an anti-polygamy activist received a call from
someone who claimed to be an almost-sixteen pregnant FLDS girl named Sara--the same name as in the Texas call. That one was traced down to a 33 year old Colorado woman with a history of making fake phone calls. What I am seeing so far, mostly on the CNN web page, are various hints that it might be a fraud but no actual description of what
happened. One obvious explanation is that the actual descriptions makes the FLDS people the victims and makes it clear that, absent further evidence, the rest of us have no reason to believe the picture of a pregnant 16 year old with a 50 year old abusive husband. The press sees the FLDS people as the villains and so wants to downplay evidence on the other side.

This also explains why the initial evidence that it was a fraud--the fact that the supposed husband hadn't been in Texas for decades and the non-existence of "Sara" among the girls on the ranch--got played down instead of being represented as pretty strong evidence that the call was bogus.

Incidentally, it's asserted online that the Colorado caller is also an Obama delegate--someone has a link to a list of Obama delegates from Colorado with her name on it. I don't know if the story is true, but I would think if true it would be newsworthy.
4.24.2008 1:45am
Jen:

1) In point of fact, the link you give is not the link that led to Jeffs' conviction. You cite a witness in an Arizona case. Jeffs was convicted in a Utah case.


Jimmy, I did have my states confused. However, I fail to see how the fact that more than one state has decided to prosecute strengthens your case that all participants in these "marriages" have expressed meaningful consent.
4.24.2008 2:04am
mlstx (mail):

pretty strong evidence that the call was bogus


Assume for a moment that the call was bogus -- pretty standard in CPS cases. Disgruntled spouses, nosy neighbors, pissed-off grandparents, all manner of people call in reports to CPS. CPS opens a file on each one, and has to investigate.

And if, in the course of investigating what turns out to be a bogus report of child abuse, CPS finds evidence of actual child abuse, they cannot, of course, ignore it.

CPS is not a popular agency -- sometimes they intervene too early or too vigorously and are rightly criticized for "ripping families apart," and other times they intervene too late or ineffectually and are rightly criticized for leaving children in harm's way. We decry CPS's "family reunification" policy that returns children to abusive parents who abuse them again.

Right now, we have no idea what to criticize CPS for; we don't have enough facts yet. And the facts on the ground are changing every minute. This thread started with a DB's post that the judge was separating breastfeeding mothers and children, and now it turns out the court isn't doing that after all -- or at least not right now (who knows what new horror story of abusive parents or abusive government tomorrow will bring!).
4.24.2008 2:10am
subpatre (mail):
"As I understand it, under Texas law a pregnant 15 year old has, by definition, been raped." "...the adults are each and all under supsicion of child abuse ( statuatory rape )[sic] because they either did it, abetted it, or knew about it and did nothing. In Texas each of these is a Felony."

Pure unadultered popycock. Pure fabrication. Why? Pure unadulterated hate. Those filthy Jews / Gypsies / FLDS need a lesson.

Waldo is right. There's a long list of folks posting here who'd flip the switch because they hate all 'those' people. "there are no innocents . . . the community was complicit, get it?"

'No proof needed, just send 'em all to the camps'. And yes, I'm aware Godwin's Law ends [fruitful discussion on] the thread.

I've seen loooong arguments, harsh rhetoric and namecalling. But this is the first thread with so much prejudicial hate; where commenters literally condemn every adult member of the religion. This is the first time I've seen 1933-34 here.
4.24.2008 2:19am
good strategy (mail):

YOU do not know how to best raise my children. I DO NOT trust you to be able to make a wise decision. What gives you the right to determine what is in my best interest. STAY OUT OF MY FAMILY. ...Arrogance, pure and simple.


Your best interest is not in question. It is that of children. To presume that whatever a parent decides for a child is automatically in the best interest of that child is idiotic.

Children aren't property you own. It should take an extreme case, but there are shitty people out there who hurt their children in myriad ways. It might be difficult to criminalize, but keeping kids in a closed community and brainwashing them creates victims who cannot advocate for themselves. There's a moral duty here.

Its a shame that our culture of greed doesn't choose to make foster care better. There is never going to be a great policy solution to child abuse, but the fact that people haven't made proper foster care a priority reflects poorly on this supposedly Christian nation.

All told, this is a shameful thread in which anti-government ideologues have leaped to conclusions and apologized for a sex cult hiding behind religion. The prejudice on display is just appalling. Exhibit #1 on the downfall of VC as a worthwhile bookmark.
4.24.2008 2:33am
SS:
Did anybody else see the TV interview of an ex FDLS woman, an escapee, who talked about the fathers LITERALLY waterboarding &physically horribly beating little babies, before they could even talk or walk, to terrify them into being deeply afraid of their fathers, without even remembering why or what happened? That is one of the sickest things... But, even worse, the off hand way the woman mentioned it, as an aside, not seeming to even realize the horror of the story beyond just knowing it was "a bad thing to do." She seemed just NUMB to it all. So, when everybody keeps saying that the mothers are innocent of abuse, they TOLERATED THAT being done to their BABIES. Shocker!
4.24.2008 2:46am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Please, please never enter government service. This is absolutely the most fearful thing on this thread. YOU do not know how to best raise my children. I DO NOT trust you to be able to make a wise decision. What gives you the right to determine what is in my best interest. STAY OUT OF MY FAMILY.

I don't think you understand constitutional analysis. Nobody's butting into your family. But where a parent isn't exposing his or her children to any outside ideas, the reality is that the state then has a stronger interest in ensuring that the parents aren't abusing the child. These sorts of closed loops facilitate abuse and make it easier to accomplish without detection.

It has nothing to do with nosing around in your family. It has everything to do with ensuring that child abuse can be detected and redressed.

And while I'm at it, you said in a previous comment that adoptive infants have no ill effects from being removed from the mother. This is a naive statement from someone who has no idea of the topic--and yet, you feel you have the right to determine what is in my family's best interest if I'm a home schooler? Arrogance, pure and simple.

Just to be clear, you have a right to home school your kids. But if you home school AND do not participate in social activities (as I understand most homeschooling families do) that would expose your kids to outside ideas, yes, the state has a greater interest in making sure nothing bad is going on. That doesn't mean they can take your kids away-- bear in mind, I doubt you are grooming them for polygamy and oppression.

And as far as adopted kids go, there really isn't any evidence that children adopted at or after birth are worse off. Really, it makes perfect sense that if you are going to take the kids (which is the contested question), it's better to take them earlier than later, where there are greater bonds and more trauma.
4.24.2008 2:46am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
On the first Amendment point, even if what Dilan said is generally right, the government has a far more narrowly tailored solution available than terminating parental rights, which is to force the parents to send their kids to "school," or otherwise supervise their education.

1. That doesn't apply to infants. It seems to me the only way to get them out of there is to get them out of there.

2. This is an argument that I am loath to make because I really don't want to impinge on the rights of homeschoolers, and I think the Constitution arguably protects them under Pierce v. Society of Sisters and Meyer v. Nebraska. It's much less restrictive, in my mind, to simply say you can homeschool but if your kid doesn't participate in any public or social activities, then evidence of a cycle of abuse can justify government intervention. That standard leaves most homeschoolers alone.
4.24.2008 2:49am
Inspector Callahan (mail):
First you say this:


All told, this is a shameful thread in which anti-government ideologues have leaped to conclusions and apologized for a sex cult hiding behind religion.


Then you say this:


The prejudice on display is just appalling.


My irony meter just pegged - yours must be turned off.

To the heart of the matter: If the "anti-government" types here hadn't seen, over the years, myriad examples of the government doing utterly stupid, immoral things in situations like these, maybe they wouldn't have such strong opinions on whether the government can really handle such a case as this one.

In your ad-hominem attack on the commenters, you glossed over (purposely) how many of the commenters addressed a lot of these issues in a logical, coherent manner, such as the way the kids themselves are being treated here - ripped from their families, scared out of their minds. Try addressing some of these points.

TV (Harry)
4.24.2008 2:51am
Inspector Callahan (mail):

But where a parent isn't exposing his or her children to any outside ideas, the reality is that the state then has a stronger interest in ensuring that the parents aren't abusing the child.


Boy, how far down THIS slippery slope do you want to travel? Do we now end the Amish religion? Do we outlaw home-schooling? Do we outlaw Catholic schools? Farther down the slope - do we force people to live in communes so everyone is taught the same thing?

A child being taught something that society doesn't agree with, but the parent DOES agree with (of course, as long as no one gets directly hurt by this thinking), does NOT constitute abuse. It is the hallmark of a free country that a parent teaches his/her child right from wrong. To take this away would be disastrous, to say the least.

TV (Harry)
4.24.2008 2:58am
John D (mail):
Is there some kind of clause in the U.S or Texas Constitutions or statutes that exempts Texas religious groups from the same due process and evidentary rights as others?

Why is this different from Your Black Muslim Bakery? I don't recall any massive move to seize the children in that case. Why this one?

Or is it just that it's safer to pick on religious White people?
4.24.2008 3:44am
smrad8:
I've been following the FLDS closely since the Jeffs case. The State is in a very, very difficult position, but there is no doubt that child sex abuse is going in in a systematic way in that community. Utah and Arizona have not intervened in the way Texas has. I'm more prone to support Texas's approach than Arizona &Utah's. Had Arizona or Utah moved to seriously prosecute child abuse years ago, this serious issue in Texas could have been averted. That said, the judge should focus on current or past crimes and not the culture - this puts religious belief on trial rather than actual behavior - never a good direction.

When it comes to polygamy - the laws are on the books, but Lawrence leaves them wide open to challenge (as Scalia very cogently pointed out in his Lawrence dissent). Had they not been bonking girls young enough for junior high, the FLDS could have gone on in their practices indefinitely. Since they were doing 12-year-olds, I'm pleased Texas moved in. I would hope more child rape charges are filed, as they were in Arizona.

Regardless, the FLDS are here to stay. Whoever their prophet is these days will probably get a revelation that they should only marry kids over 16, and that will be it until some hot-shot DA starts trying to make a bigamy case. Then, if the SCOTUS gets involved, it could legalize "spiritual" polygamy on a Lawrence precedent, or even throw marriage statues out altogether. Ironic that one of the most ultra-conservative groups in the U.S. could lead to gay marriage legalization. Probably not likely, but a reasonable possibility.

Finally, I'm amazed at the number of child sex apologists on this thread. Normalizing and decriminalizing child-adult sex is a definite goal of the NAMBLA crowd, and they use some of the same historical and cultural arguments found here. Volokh must be one of the sites on the boy-love web ring. Who knew?
4.24.2008 4:35am
Grover Gardner (mail):

If the "anti-government" types here hadn't seen, over the years, myriad examples of the government doing utterly stupid, immoral things in situations like these, maybe they wouldn't have such strong opinions on whether the government can really handle such a case as this one.



The government has totally ignored every rule and law that is suppose to protect people against wholesale fishing raids like these.



While still better than much of the world, the government continues to place themselves in a position of superiority rather than behaving as the servants they actually are.



The government has a well-documented history of making stuff up after the fact to justify what they already did.



Calling adolescents 'children' just one more example of the government's increasingly successful effort to infantilize everybody.



This is what you get when you let the government get out of control.


Wow! It took me a while to figure out I wasn't reading one of Jeremiah Wright's sermons.
4.24.2008 6:48am
DWPittelli (mail) (www):
Patrick216: "I hope that the mainline LDS church steps up to the plate and rehabilitates these children... [LDS] should have nipped FLDS in the bud 50 years ago."

So if I make up a religion whose name and teachings have sufficient resemblance to that of some other more-established church, my followers' children might be subject to that church's civil authority?
4.24.2008 7:32am
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: All
RE: Texas....

....seems to be developing an historic pattern of behavior against people with religious beliefs different than their government 'authorities'.

[1] A severe lack of evidence.
[2] Massive law enforcement involvement.
[3] Horrific treatment of men, women and children.

The only thing missing in THIS instance is that they did't murder all of the people in the compound, as they did in the Waco Massacre.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
4.24.2008 8:30am
Gaius Marius:
If you are a parent practicing a minority religion in Texas, the State of Texas has the right to take your children away. Seventh Day Adventists are being targeted next by the State of Texas.
4.24.2008 8:46am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
So, Dilan.
Do you have a list of approved outside ideas I can get?
Just so I can keep my kids away from you.
4.24.2008 9:02am
aloysiusmiller (mail):
I am chagrined to read that some people have no problem with polygamy of consenting adults but are concerned about underage sex etc. Maybe in the first generation of polygamy that could work but raise one generation of men in a polygamous household and there will be problems for the next generation. By the third and fourth generation it will be plain old evil.

Polygamy is a non-starter. The judge in Texas is doing God's work. I wish she had better tools to do it with. It seems a bit ugly but this is truly necessary.
4.24.2008 9:09am
Sam Hall (mail):
Dilan Esper said:
"I realize this isn't a concession that a libertarian would want to make, but the problem is, groups like the FLDS depend on the fact that they are basically a closed system where children can be indoctrinated into the wicked belief system and it becomes very hard for them to escape. IF that allegation can be proven, it seems to me that it would withstand strict scrutiny because it would be absolutely necessary to override the wishes of the parents and take the kids out of the system, and there would be no less restrictive means of doing this."

OK, based on that line of reasoning, we should remove the kids from all adults that wear, or allow their kids to wear Che Guevara shirts since that belief system promotes murder.

Do you really want to travel that road?
4.24.2008 9:49am
griefer (mail):
Sam Hall

based on that line of reasoning, we should remove the kids from all adults that wear, or allow their kids to wear Che Guevara shirts since that belief system promotes murder.


if those adults are abetting or perpetrating child abuse, child rape, or child molestation, yes.

headmistriss:
where I can find the sources for this accusation:
in web articles, and FOXnews coverage has been extensive on the legal ramifications. theres tons of material.
use your eyes and ears.

What I dont unnerstand about christians, is why non-sentient cell clumps (fertilized human ovaa) should have citizen rights, yet it is ok for these poor FLDS children to be treated like chattel?
Those children are citizens of the US. if their parents cannot protect them from abuse, the state has to.
it is simple to me.
that is why the adults are not innocent, even nursing mothers.
because they are adults.
4.24.2008 10:51am
griefer (mail):
and any one of those mothers could get their children back by turning state's evidence and renouncing the institutionalized child abuse practices of the FLDS.

they wont tho.
they would be shunned.
4.24.2008 10:58am
griefer (mail):
it is particularily disgusting to me how people on this thread are apolgists for the FLDS.
Jeffs and Barlow were both convicted, for cripes sake.
4.24.2008 11:05am
griefer (mail):
it is telling that these are the first rightside blog discussions of the FLDS polygamy ranch.
the story broke over a week ago.

perhaps you were all hoping the story would go away?
good thing handsomemormonguy isnt the VP pick right now, huh?
Mormons are getting a lot of bad press.
4.24.2008 11:12am
Darrell (mail):
So, let me see if I understand this case correctly. A group of evil male FLDS authoritarian child molesters at the YFZ Ranch brainwashes their women and children to believe in polygamy and marriage at an early age. Then, some of the brainwashed underage women are voluntarily molested by the evil FLDS men and have children. When the State of Texas receives an anonymous phone call from a 30-something year old female in Colorado claiming to be an abused 16 year old FLDS female from Texas, without making any effort to verify the authenticity of the phone call, a local Texas judge orders the immediate round up all FLDS women and children at the YFZ Ranch like cattle and then takes the children away from their mothers to "protect" them from some imagined but unsubstantiated abuse. Meanwhile, the evil FLDS men who allegedly victimized the FLDS women and children remain free and unmolested by the State of Texas at the YFZ Ranch. If this weren't true, I would think that it was some sort of fiction invented in the Twilight Zone. You simply gotta love Texas-style justice! ... Constitution! We don't need no stinking Constitution! We have the Texas Rangers and the CPS to protect us!
4.24.2008 11:24am
mofo:

Here's a hand grenade for the debate:

Article 2

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
...
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.


Just add, that TX Gestapo pays competitive religious groups to "take care" of chidren.

That is why they need an absolute immunity for protitute judges.
4.24.2008 11:52am
Gaius Marius:
Polygamy is a non-starter. The judge in Texas is doing God's work. I wish she had better tools to do it with. It seems a bit ugly but this is truly necessary.

Personally, I don't practice or believe in polygamy. However, I do seem to recall that Old Testament Patriarchs practiced polygamy. In fact, Jacob/Israel sired 12 sons and at least 1 daughter with four women (two of whom were sisters). If you believe in Christ, then you also believe that Christ was a direct descendent of a polygamous household.
4.24.2008 11:53am
Gaius Marius:
it is telling that these are the first rightside blog discussions of the FLDS polygamy ranch.
the story broke over a week ago.


We conservatives had more important things to discuss like Barack Hussein Mohamad Obama's "bitter" remarks and lousy debate performance.
4.24.2008 11:55am
griefer (mail):
darell, all the judge needed was sincere belief of criminal activity.
the character of the informant is irrelevant.
and there is evidence recovered of criminal activity.

A children's home in Austin will get about 15 young kids, lawyers say. And around 10 pregnant girls -- including a 14-year-old -- will go to a group home in San Antonio.
4.24.2008 12:16pm
griefer (mail):
also darrell.....warren jeffs, the founder of FLDS, is currently in prison for practicing the teachings of the FLDS church.
a forced marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her cousin i believe.
4.24.2008 12:23pm
Darrell (mail):
griefer:

Gee, a 14-year old is pregnant. We need to immediately round up all 14-year-old mothers in this country and their children and then take their children away!

If there is evidence of a crime in this case, law enforcement should investigate, find the criminals and arrest them. Punishing the victims doesn't help anyone and is a violation of rights given to U.S. citizens by the U.S. Constitution. What the judge did in this case is wrong and will probably result in the criminals going free, since the evidence obtained will be inadmissible in a criminal court.
4.24.2008 12:32pm
Ten (mail):
A question for the legal minds here: What exactly would it take to prosecute Texas CPS to the fullest extent of the law concerning gross rights violations, kidnapping, child abuse, etc.

No, I don't give that any more hope than I do that Janet "Waco" Reno will serve her remaining years behind bars, but perhaps pushing the debate (which really shouldn't even be occurring, what with all the subjectifying and statism and CPS apologists promoting what is indeed a religion of State) back to center is a start to regaining a little constitutional sanity.

The center of this debate, obviously, should be what to do about prosecuting rogue officials convicted of abusing rights for what any reasonable mind knows is ideological gain.

Not so incidentally, forced family breakup is part and parcel of family court. All the basics of this case occur there as a matter of course. Jury? We don't need no stinkin' jury.

Follow the money, follow the political power. CPS does. As does the court.
4.24.2008 12:37pm
Gaius Marius:
Follow the money, follow the political power. CPS does. As does the court.

I wonder if CPS was in danger of having its budget cut and if this entire incident will be used to justify its existing budget or increasing the budget???
4.24.2008 12:46pm
griefer (mail):
no it wont darrell
the reason the cases collapsed in last polygamy raid was because there wasn't DNA testing then.

the search and seizure was legal.
volokh can tell u that.

For several years now, children have been reassigned from one father to another and even one family to another as Warren Jeffs, the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, grew increasingly tyrannical, Carolyn Jessop said in an interview.




That helps explain why so many of the children are unable or unwilling to tell child protection officials who their parents are. This confusion over identities is the reason a Texas judge ordered DNA tests for all of the children and asked that parents voluntarily provide DNA samples.

Testing began Monday and is expected to continue through the week. Processing the samples will take several more weeks.

Even with the testing, Ms. Jessop doubted officials will be able to find many of the fathers because some, if not many, of the men are afraid to be tested themselves. Any voluntary DNA samples could be used later in a criminal trial if the mothers were minors when they were impregnated.


4.24.2008 1:12pm
Dan Weber (www):
Your best interest is not in question. It is that of children.

And there we go. People saying "WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN!?!?!!!1" with no irony at all.

Heads up: No parent does the absolutely best job in the world, and not even the best job they are capable of. You can always find some minor way of improving things. And how to "improve" things varies over the years. (Epidural? Natural birth? Breast-feeding? Bottle feeding? Glass bottle feeding? The conventional wisdom on each of those depends on what decade you were born in.)

When your standard becomes "doing what is best for the children" then the government owns all of our kids, because any parent can have their kids taken away at any time.

No doubt this fact warms the hearts of some of our commenters.
4.24.2008 1:17pm
libarbarian (mail):

The Mormon child abuse scandal is going to make the Catholic Church's shame look like the moral equivilent of Jaywalking.

The FLDS is the worst but the mainstream Mormon church's day is coming too.
4.24.2008 1:21pm
libarbarian (mail):

Gee, a 14-year old is pregnant. We need to immediately round up all 14-year-old mothers in this country and their children and then take their children away!


There is a big difference between a 14-yr old who has consentual sex with her boyfriend and a 14-yr old who is forced to marry a stranger.

One wonders how much of the defense of the FLDS is coming from people who like the idea of getting their own hands on a 14 yr old sex slave who has already had her independence beaten out of her......
4.24.2008 1:26pm
Darrell (mail):
griefer:

I stand by what I said earlier. Law enforcement should be doing the investigation, finding the real criminals, and leaving the mothers and their children (i.e., the victims) alone. In this case, there was no immediate need to destroy families and traumatize children. This was sloppy law enforcement work driven by religious bias and should not be tolerated in a democratic society. I guess we'll see what happens on the criminal prosecution side, but I wouldn't rule out evidence being thrown out due to sloppy work. It doesn't matter if the search and seizure is legal in a civil court. The bar is higher for criminal proceedings.
4.24.2008 1:29pm
Darrell (mail):
libarbarian:

I hate to tell you this, but most 14-year-old mothers (FLDS and non-FLDS) are impregnated through consensual sex with adult males. And, just for your edification, I am not defending the potential criminals in this case. I am defending the rights of women and children (i.e., victims) to remain together within their families.
4.24.2008 1:37pm
libarbarian (mail):

I am defending the rights of women and children (i.e., victims) to remain together within their families.



It looks to me like you are making the argument that the court shouldn't even investigate the allegations unless it has "proof" that they are correct. Such a standard is ridiculously impractical. Thats what investigations are for - finding if proof exists and getting it if it does. "Proof" is NEVER needed to investigate or even arrest. Reasonable suspicion is ALL that is needed.

Yes, if the parents are innocent then the cost of temporarily separating them from their children is a mildly traumatic experience. If, on the other hand, there is abuse going on, then the cost of handing the children back is likely to derail the entire case as the parents pressure &threaten the children into false testimony and allowing them to get away with past and future abuse.


Temporarily separating the children from the families is absolutely necessary for the court to actually investigate the case. They have to be sure that denials of abuse are real and not the product of coercion. Otherwise you put them in a position where they can be easily influenced or pressured to change their testimony. The children HAVE to be interviewed in a private environment where we can be sure that their answers are not the result of manipulation and coercion.

You think these 14-yr olds chose to get married and have babies? Maybe they did, but I'll trust them more if they say this when they are no longer surrounded by, and dependent upon, people who could be expected to pressure them to say it.

Its been what? 1 week? 2 weeks? Let them investigate. If in 6 months they haven't pressed charges or returned the children then I will share your outrage.
4.24.2008 2:04pm
Ten (mail):
When your standard becomes "doing what is best for the children" then the government owns all of our kids, because any parent can have their kids taken away at any time.

Which is precisely the concern here, regardless of all the softheadedness about protecting kids or observing reactionary Texas law.

(You did know age of consent was changed in Texas not that long ago and was changed to thwart these sects? Try and not get all righteous about precisely how many trips around the sun it takes for collective society to deem you able to bear offspring until you consider that little nugget.)

The problem here are those pesky prior constitutional rights, the ones that'll get you laughed out of a (Texas?) courtroom invoking. Try it sometime.

Constitutional American government, people, does not exist to preempt those prior, fundamental rights with all this "best interest" and "costs to society" malarky. I realize that's a revolutionary concept to all the moralists among us, but it's still an utterly Jeffersonian principle.

Remember the Bill of Rights? Texas CPS violated it, and as at least one commenter observes, that kind of protectionism means they are your master and not the servant they were intended to be.

Wake up. Making rights subservient to contemporary moral codes enacted by government -- typically at the behest of special interest and without recourse -- just isn't American. It's literally Bolshevik. Even the Soviets ultimately abandoned statist family management as too harmful to the core unit of society.

Take a breath, moralists. And re-realize the cost of freedom, which is quite substantial and involves policing yourself and private sectors and other antiquated notions in this our enlightened, collectivized, post-modern society. Trading your freedom for security, which is absolutely what you're doing, will surely cost you both.
4.24.2008 2:06pm
Josie (mail):
"Ok, there may be times when the law has to be arbitrary. But the question of when a child -- especially a female -- becomes an adult does not have to be arbitrary. There is a logical, natural criterion for deciding, and it's known as puberty"

The onset of menses these days is often as early as 8. Sometimes as early as 6. Nurses are currently taught that the ages of pregnancy (as in, the ages we have to confirm that a patient isn't pregnant if they are about to undergo some treatment contraindicated for pregnant women) are from 8 to 60.

I'm not onboard with declaring 8-year old girls adults...
4.24.2008 2:07pm
A.W. (mail):
As for the argument of the post... give me a break. The state of Texas is doing the best it can. Nobody wants to needlessly traumatize the children. But frankly these pod people are creepy and it is wholly logical to say, "we're going to have a time out while we sort out exactly what went on."

And stop saying that because one call was bogus, that the case is bogus. it was more than one person reporting child abuse. i am not a big supporter of taking the kids away in general, but this qualifies for an exception.
4.24.2008 2:12pm
Ten (mail):
I'm not onboard with declaring 8-year old girls adults...

And I'm not onboard with alcohol sales. Or movie theaters. Outboard motors.

So...are there rights and is there a separation of public and private or are we a simple moral democracy where whim and majority make laws and the Bill of Rights is shredded?

Like I keep saying, safety-by-government will cost you your freedom. Ditto all the anti-constitutional emoting in libarbarian's latest comment.

THERE SHOULD BE A LAW! PEOPLE ARE AT RISK! COSTS TO SOCIETY! BEST INTEREST!
4.24.2008 2:14pm
Ten (mail):
The state of Texas is doing the best it can.

Utter subjectivist rubbish.

Nobody wants to needlessly traumatize the children.

Remember Waco.
4.24.2008 2:16pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Boy, how far down THIS slippery slope do you want to travel? Do we now end the Amish religion? Do we outlaw home-schooling? Do we outlaw Catholic schools? Farther down the slope - do we force people to live in communes so everyone is taught the same thing?

I don't see the slippery slope. Almost all homeschoolers and insular religions have nothing to worry about. It's only the combination of (1) evidence of systematic abuse and (2) evidence that the society is so closed off that sytematic abuse is not going to get reported and redressed that permits the government to intervene in this manner.
4.24.2008 2:36pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
When it comes to polygamy - the laws are on the books, but Lawrence leaves them wide open to challenge (as Scalia very cogently pointed out in his Lawrence dissent).

That's silly. What Scalia is talking about is polyamory, e.g., people living in communes, group marriages, and the like. (And Scalia's wrong even about that, because there are strong administrative reasons to set the limit of persons in a marriage at 2.) Nobody seriously believes that laws against child abuse which cover FLDS-style polygamy are touched by Lawrence.
4.24.2008 2:38pm
worried:
To be trite; hard cases make bad law. I think everyone agrees that the FLDS is bad. But ... the state often allows bad things to happen as the price for the preservation of liberties for the majority. Thus we release obviously guilty criminals on "technicalities" because the harm caused by releasing a criminal back into society to prey upon others is outweighed by the harm of disregarding due process rights. Perhaps the existance of cults is simply the price we must pay for the right to freely associate and worship. Where do we draw the line? What if I want my children NOT to be taught that diversity based on skin color is a good in and of itself because it will lead eventually to the balkanization of America? Is that grounds for taking my children away from me? Some of the beliefs I hold are extremely unpopular. Does that make me an unfit parent and who is to decide; a government employee?
4.24.2008 2:40pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
So, Dilan.
Do you have a list of approved outside ideas I can get?
Just so I can keep my kids away from you.


Richard, that's just offensive. Nobody's taking your kids away or telling you how to raise them. And don't deny the obvious-- the insularity of FLDS-like societies facilitates abuse.

You know, I could go and accuse everyone on the other side of supporting the rape of 15 year old girls by older men. But I don't. That sort of ad hominem attack has no place here. Neither does your side's talk about those of us who disagree with you coming to take your kids.
4.24.2008 2:41pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
OK, based on that line of reasoning, we should remove the kids from all adults that wear, or allow their kids to wear Che Guevara shirts since that belief system promotes murder.

You didn't read my post very well. It is the INSULARITY of the system that makes it dangerous. If the kid goes to a public school, or a private school with broad admissions, or is homeschooled but participates in outside social activities of some sort with other kids of different backgrounds and belief systems, there's no issue here.

On the other hand, if someone wants to withdraw their kids from society and train them to be Che Guevara-style revolutionaries without any exposure to other ideas, yes, that would be a problem.
4.24.2008 2:44pm
worried:

On the other hand, if someone wants to withdraw their kids from society and train them to be Che Guevara-style revolutionaries without any exposure to other ideas, yes, that would be a problem.


sarah conner, get your kid to mexico pronto!!!
4.24.2008 2:47pm
Darrell (mail):
libarbarian:

Investigating criminal activity at the FLDS ranch in Texas did not require the draconian measures used in this case. A court order for obtaining DNA evidence could have been served and the handful of teenage girls that were suspected of being abused could have been temporarily removed for questioning without a wholesale destruction of all of the families involved. This would have been within the reasonable limits provided by the U.S. Constitution while still providing the basis to find and punish criminal activity. Why do you think that law enforcement should be given such excessive authority in such cases? If the only objective is to detect and punish criminal activity, more reasonable measures are adequate and justified. This case is clearly being driven by a desire to punish all of the members of the FLDS sect because of their religious beliefs. It doesn't pass the constitutional smell test and should be opposed by all who value religious freedom.
4.24.2008 2:56pm
Sam Hall (mail):
Dilan Esper said: ...And don't deny the obvious-- the insularity of FLDS-like societies facilitates abuse."

So nobody can do anything in private because they might be hiding abuse? Get real. Just because a group of people live their own way doesn't mean the government can make them change.
If CPS can prove a crime, they can arrest that person. They can't take kids because they might suffer, or commint aduse 10 years from now.
4.24.2008 2:56pm
Darrell (mail):
Dilan Esper:

I personally know a number of families who have chosen to home-school their children and who do not allow them to participate in public activities. They see regular society as a corrupting influence and do not wish their children to be exposed to it. So, by your reasoning, law enforcement should be knocking down their doors and confiscating/interrogating their children for their own protection. Somehow, I don't think that the founding fathers had that scenario in mind when they wrote the U.S. Constitution. Criminal activity can be detected and punished using more reasonable methods that do not disrupt and separate families. What Texas is doing to the FLDS mothers and children is cruel, excessive and criminal to the extreme.
4.24.2008 3:19pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Darrell.
You don't get it. Dilan knows better than you. Or anybody.
We have to trust his judgment.
4.24.2008 3:25pm
Ten (mail):
We have to trust his judgment.

Good thing. Because he's utterly factless.

There's a lot of assaults on freedom but perhaps none more offensive than the moralizing assumers of Truth.
4.24.2008 3:29pm
Old & Cranky (mail):
1) At age 16, a girl's hips spread, making childbirth easier. Therefore, making age 16 the minimum age for marriage is not without logic. The law in this area will always be a compromise.

2) The majority of the children "placed in foster care" will be moved from home to home, and from school to school. For children under age two, the psychological evidence is clear -- it is better to have stability with a rather neglectful but permanent mother than to have a series of temporary "ideal mothers."

3) CPS is lying when it says it will make every effort to keep sibling groups together. CPS will make every effort to place the youngest and cutest kids with people who want to adopt them. The older children will be subjected to unrelenting abuse and neglect at the hands of their "protectors."

3) DNA testing to establish paternity in a closed community where polygamy has been practiced for two or more generations may not lead to definitive results.

4) The judge would have a more manageable case on her hands if she limited her involvement to the girls age 11 to age 18. As others have mentioned above, every female and every child present in the compound on the day of the raid has had a court case opened, and the sheer numbers of children going into foster care simultaneously guarantees that many of the children will end up in VERY BAD HOMES.

5) EVERY child is at "future risk" of being abused or neglected because none of us knows what the future will hold. Under this standard, CPS can pick up the children of any relatively powerless family and hold them indefinitely. Is it really appropriate to place a six-month old who is not currently abused or neglected into foster care because she might be pressured into a marriage at age 15 or because he might be thrown out of the cult at age 17?

6) For the person who posted above regarding the status of additional children born to cult members from this point on -- the answer is that the newborns will be confiscated at the hospital and placed into foster care immediately. This is standard CPS procedure throughout the country. If the parents are accused of abusing/neglecting ONE of their children, then they are generally not allowed to keep ANY of them.

7) From what I have read elsewhere on the web, I am of the belief that if the Texas authorities had harassed and investigated the teenaged mothers and old geezer fathers every time they signed up for welfare benefits for an infant born to a teenaged mother, the state government probably could have convinced the cult that marrying girls off on their 18th birthdays was the way to go, unless it was a first marriage for both parties, in which case the girl could get married at 16. The head of the cult would have had some kind of "prophetic revelation" and the cult would have made minor alterations in their practices that would have brought them into full compliance with Texas law.
4.24.2008 3:56pm
Kent G. Budge (mail) (www):

The FLDS is the worst but the mainstream Mormon church's day is coming too.


"First they came for the Communists..."
4.24.2008 4:00pm
Darrell (mail):
I am usually loath to trust the Federal government, but I think that it might be time to demand that lawmakers enact some Federal laws that protect American families from being hurt by State CPS organizations through their abusive use of the lax civil court system. It might also be nice to provide a more standard approach to marital age limits and related parental consent requirements. It probably won't happen, but I can always dream can't I.......(sigh)
4.24.2008 4:15pm
Darrell (mail):
"The FLDS is the worst but the mainstream Mormon church's day is coming too."

1. The mainstream Mormon church hasn't practiced polygamy in over 100 years and excommunicates members who are found to be practicing it.

2. The mainstream Mormon church teaches its members to honor and respect the law of the land and will excommunicate those who are convicted of serious offenses.

3. The mainstream Mormon church regularly preaches against the evils of pornography, child abuse, and any other sexual sin and routinely excommunicates members who are found in violation of its strict moral code.

4. Most mainstream Mormon children attend public or private schools along with everyone else.

5. Mainstream Mormons are universally known for being the most family friendly people on Earth.

6. If they start coming for the children of mainstream Mormons, the Catholics and Protestants should begin looking over their shoulders or moving to another country, because they are not far behind.
4.24.2008 4:33pm
griefer (mail):
This was sloppy law enforcement work driven by religious bias and should not be tolerated in a democratic society.

/shrug

take it to court then.
the rights of minors being abused superceed the rights of adults doin the abusing.
two words for u, dude.

DNA testing.
4.24.2008 4:34pm
luagha:
>3) DNA testing to establish paternity in a closed >community where polygamy has been practiced for two or >more generations may not lead to definitive results.

This is no longer the case. DNA testing for paternity has made incredible advances over the past several years.
4.24.2008 4:58pm
Darrell (mail):
griefer:

Your "/shrug" response says volumes. It certainly doesn't show much empathy for the potential victims in this case. So, lets destroy the victims in our race to get the perpetrators.

Maybe you don't read well. I clearly advocate investigating criminal activity and prosecuting the criminals. I simply don't advocate punishing the mothers and children (i.e., the victims) by using draconian law enforcement tactics. You don't have to break up FLDS families to do DNA testing and to find and prosecute any real criminal activity. When you do what is being done in Texas, a more sinister ulterior motive is driving it...religious bias.
4.24.2008 5:26pm
The Watcher:
I wonder how many people who are reading this blog are saying to themselves as below, (albeit silently as you don't want to draw attention to yourself; after all, you might be determined to be a "problem") "If you you come to take my kids away, come armed; send old men for the task, whose children are already grown and whose widows will not pine for them."
4.24.2008 5:28pm
Suzy (mail):
It is outrageous to suggest that this judge is engaging in "child abuse", by trying to remove children from a situation in which they are being raped. She was the one who wanted to keep the infants with their mothers; CPS had originally planned otherwise, and she changed their plans. This judge has been asking that the children are able to continue their religious practices, to the point of having their familiar attire provided to them while they are in foster care.

I agree that it would be terrible to separate nursing mothers from their children without an extremely good reason; luckily that's not what this judge wants to do. If we weren't cherry-picking her remarks out of context, maybe that would be clearer.
4.24.2008 5:31pm
Sam Hall (mail):
griefer said: "Take it to court then.
the rights of minors being abused superceed the rights of adults doin the abusing. "

There are over 100 kids under 4 years old that have been taken away. There is no claims that their parents abused them or anyone else. No one, repeat no one, has been charged with abuse. When that happens, then they can take away kids in that family only.

I am a Texan and I have family in San Angelo so I know the area.

What appears to have happened here is CPS has let their power go to their heads. Texas is going to pay big time for this and the people that go to jail may well be CPS and not the abusers since these searches and DNA testing will be thrown out of criminal court.
4.24.2008 5:41pm
Darrell (mail):
Suzy:

The fact that this judge believes that taking children away from their mothers at all in this case is sufficiently damning to suggest mindless judicial abuse of the rights of the FLDS mothers and their children. So, you must think that it's okay to punish the FLDS victims even though less invasive methods that don't involve breaking their families apart would find and punish those who have broken the law? Face it. This judge has an agenda that doesn't include doing what is best for the FLDS children. This is more about punishing the entire FLDS religious sect for practicing beliefs that she doesn't like. End of story.
4.24.2008 5:47pm
Gaius Marius:
The "anonymous caller" has now been identified by the Rocky Mountain News as Rozita Swinton from Colorado who has a history of calling in false reports of sexual or child abuse against various churches (not just FLDS) or their pastors. Not surprisingly, Ms. Swinton is also a delegate to the Democratic National Convention for presidential candidate Barack Hussein Mohamad Obama.
4.24.2008 5:50pm
nicestrategy (mail):

Heads up: No parent does the absolutely best job in the world, and not even the best job they are capable of. You can always find some minor way of improving things.


Exactly why I wrote: "It should take an extreme case, but there are shitty people out there who hurt their children in myriad ways. It might be difficult to criminalize..."

The problem with the slippery slope argument here is that it makes a wildly improbable future (Libruls are coming to git yur kids!) more important that the entirely probable current situation -- an abusive cult that casts out its male children and brainwashes its female children to become compliant sex toys.

Some of the posters have raised reasonable objections to the way TX proceeded with this case. Some of them, however, are making arguments NAMBLA makes, show utterly no regard for the welfare of the children, and are basically defending the indefensible.

In case you hadn't noticed, talking up Jesus &hiding behind religion is a really good smokescreen for all sorts of corrupt people. You might think that sincere Christians would be the first to decry the hypocrites, but there is bigger political fish to fry -- keeping up the trope about the victimization of religion.

Off to the other thread.
4.24.2008 5:53pm
Gaius Marius:
In case you hadn't noticed, talking up Jesus &hiding behind religion is a really good smokescreen for all sorts of corrupt people.

You're right, Nicestrategy, the only corrupt people in this world are Christians.
4.24.2008 5:58pm
Darrell (mail):
nicestrategy and Gaius Marius:

I think that both of you have been brainwashed into believing that religion is the real problem. Christians do bad things when they stop practicing what Jesus taught. Who knew???
4.24.2008 6:11pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
So nobody can do anything in private because they might be hiding abuse? Get real.

For the last time, STOP DELIBERATELY MISCHARACTERIZING MY ARGUMENT.

99 percent of everyone who keeps their kids out of social interactions with other kids of different backgrounds (a small minority to begin with) will be fine. It's only where there is that PLUS evidence of child abuse where the state can come in.

Really, I know it is so much easier to argue against phony arguments than real ones, but you might want to try grappling my point.
4.24.2008 6:19pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I personally know a number of families who have chosen to home-school their children and who do not allow them to participate in public activities. They see regular society as a corrupting influence and do not wish their children to be exposed to it. So, by your reasoning, law enforcement should be knocking down their doors and confiscating/interrogating their children for their own protection.

NO NO NO NO NO.

Jesus, READ MY POSTS PEOPLE!

It's only where you have that PLUS evidence of abuse.
4.24.2008 6:21pm
Sam Hall (mail):
Dilan Esper said READ MY POSTS PEOPLE!"

I did. You said:

"You didn't read my post very well. It is the INSULARITY of the system that makes it dangerous. If the kid goes to a public school, or a private school with broad admissions, or is homeschooled but participates in outside social activities of some sort with other kids of different backgrounds and belief systems, there's no issue here.

On the other hand, if someone wants to withdraw their kids from society and train them to be Che Guevara-style revolutionaries without any exposure to other ideas, yes, that would be a problem."

Nothing about abuse, just the parents teaching that you don't like.
4.24.2008 7:09pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Nothing about abuse, just the parents teaching that you don't like.

Teaching your kids to be Che Guevara style revolutionaries, Sam, IS child abuse. And I was very clear. Several times. Unless there is both the withdrawal from society AND evidence of abuse, the state doesn't get to do what it did here.

Look, if your position is that a person has a right to teach his or her kid to be the next Osama Bin Laden, or Timothy McVeigh, or to sexually abuse young girls, and to withdraw the kid from any situation where those teachings might get detected or challenged, that position simply isn't tenable. Yes, parents have a lot of leeway to raise their children. But it isn't absolute; a child isn't the parents' property, and under very exceptional circumstances, the state can step in.
4.24.2008 7:55pm
worried:
dilan

you said

if someone wants to withdraw their kids from society and train them to be Che Guevara-style revolutionaries without any exposure to other ideas, yes, that would be a problem."


here is a quote from an article relating to an inner city neighborhood


"I got extreme after I got shot." James started teaching youngsters from Nickerson how to gangbang. Using rival gangbangers for practice, he taught his students how to hunt and kill. "You teach a person how not to take losses, how to be gladiators, run them down, gun them down," he explained.



i would be curious after reading the article at this location how you would rank the insularity of the nickerson housing project with the insularity of the the flds compound.
4.24.2008 8:10pm
Seamus (mail):
I'm not sure, but I am also not sure what the huge deal is either. As far as I know, breastfeeding confers real but very modest health benefits to babies. I doubt that there is any lasting damage done by a short period of formula feeding while the state figures out what the heck to do with all these kids. And if the state's allegations are well-founded, they really do have to do everything possible to ensure that the kids aren't raised in that belief system as that will perpetuate the abuse cycle.

If the children are young enough to be nursing, I don't think there's much danger that letting them stay with their mothers until, say, they were weaned, would "perpetuate the abuse cycle." Of course, if the state tried taking my children away from my wife and me because they thought my religious beliefs were abusive, I'd probably be on trial for murdering a few CPS officials. And that's even if they waited until my children were weaned.
4.24.2008 8:23pm
Seamus (mail):
Teaching your kids to be Che Guevara style revolutionaries, Sam, IS child abuse. And I was very clear. Several times. Unless there is both the withdrawal from society AND evidence of abuse, the state doesn't get to do what it did here.

Look, if your position is that a person has a right to teach his or her kid to be the next Osama Bin Laden, or Timothy McVeigh, or to sexually abuse young girls, and to withdraw the kid from any situation where those teachings might get detected or challenged, that position simply isn't tenable. Yes, parents have a lot of leeway to raise their children. But it isn't absolute; a child isn't the parents' property, and under very exceptional circumstances, the state can step in.


So because I homeschool my children, and teach them that homosexual acts are sinful, that the Mexican Cristeros and the Vendeean rebels during the French Revolution are worthy role models, and that preservation of our liberty could require people to pick up guns and start killing gubmint agents, and because I find to my amusement that they seem to be even more reactionary than I am (I guess that constitutes "perpetuation of the cycle of abuse"), the state ought to step in and take them away from me?
4.24.2008 8:31pm
Sam Hall (mail):
Dilan Esper said "Teaching your kids to be Che Guevara style revolutionaries, Sam, IS child abuse. And I was very clear. Several times. Unless there is both the withdrawal from society AND evidence of abuse, the state doesn't get to do what it did here."

No it isn't. If it was half of Berkeley would be in jail. Do you think those kids there get anything different in the public schools than they do at home? Hate America full time. And as much as I don't like it, it is legal.
4.24.2008 8:36pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
i would be curious after reading the article at this location how you would rank the insularity of the nickerson housing project with the insularity of the the flds compound.

Well, presumably those kids go to public school where those viewpoints can be countered. Withdrawing one's kids from society really does facilitate child abuse-- but, since people missed my point before-- the state still has to show that abuse is going on. It facilitates child abuse because the public schools and other kids and families aren't around to offer contrary information, and also because it is harder for the state to know what is going on in there.

But more philosophically, yes, I have a huge problem with parents teaching their kids to be gangbangers. For state intervention of the form permitted in the FLDS case, however, I want a showing that you can't simply detect these cases individually when these kids are in school or with their peers.
4.24.2008 9:33pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
If the children are young enough to be nursing, I don't think there's much danger that letting them stay with their mothers until, say, they were weaned, would "perpetuate the abuse cycle." Of course, if the state tried taking my children away from my wife and me because they thought my religious beliefs were abusive, I'd probably be on trial for murdering a few CPS officials. And that's even if they waited until my children were weaned.

But hopefully, your religion doesn't teach you to sexually abuse children. That's a key difference, isn't it?

And as for the nursing mothers, they reversed that decision, but again, if they are just going to have to split the families up when they get a little older to prevent the abuse, it seems to me to be smarter to separate them earlier when it is less likely to traumatize the kids.
4.24.2008 9:35pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
So because I homeschool my children, and teach them that homosexual acts are sinful, that the Mexican Cristeros and the Vendeean rebels during the French Revolution are worthy role models, and that preservation of our liberty could require people to pick up guns and start killing gubmint agents, and because I find to my amusement that they seem to be even more reactionary than I am (I guess that constitutes "perpetuation of the cycle of abuse"), the state ought to step in and take them away from me?

I think that's a rather silly hypothetical.
4.24.2008 9:36pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
No it isn't. If it was half of Berkeley would be in jail. Do you think those kids there get anything different in the public schools than they do at home? Hate America full time. And as much as I don't like it, it is legal.

You need to learn the difference between metaphor (the sense in which Berkeley is full of "revolutionaries") and reality (the sense in which Timothy McVeigh was fomenting revolution).

Really, have you ever visited a Berkeley public school? They have some of the best schools in the country there. Lots of kids go on to Ivy league schools as well as Stanford and Cal. People are getting a very good education there.
4.24.2008 9:38pm
libarbarian (mail):
I find this whole thing fascinating because of what it shows about peoples relative value systems.

It looks like Texas Penal Code Section 21.11 makes the age of consent 17, although there is apparently and exception in cases of consentual sex with a person not more than 3 years older. To the best of my knowledge it is uncontested that adult (older than 20) male members of the FLDS community have married girls younger than 17 and connsumated the marriages as well. Unless there are further exceptions based on parental consent, it appears as though these men are technically guilty of statutory rape.

Personally, I'm not a stickler for the law and I don't think these men should be prosecuted for "statch" if their wives and in-laws consented. What interests me is that many people I know who normally have very little tolerance for even relatively "harmless" illegal behavior think that in this case the law should not be enforced. I also notice the reverse - that some people whom I know to normally give little credence to the strict letter of the law have argued that, in this case, it should be applied.

Take it for what its worth.
4.24.2008 9:49pm
Seamus (mail):
I think that's a rather silly hypothetical.

Are you trying to be funny when you call that a hypothetical?
4.24.2008 11:39pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Personally, I'm not a stickler for the law and I don't think these men should be prosecuted for "statch" if their wives and in-laws consented. What interests me is that many people I know who normally have very little tolerance for even relatively "harmless" illegal behavior think that in this case the law should not be enforced. I also notice the reverse - that some people whom I know to normally give little credence to the strict letter of the law have argued that, in this case, it should be applied.

Well, I'm pretty consistent on this. I think statutory rape is basically a nonissue when you are talking about too just-under-age teenagers fooling around with each other.

Statutory rape, however, is a huge issue when you are talking about powerful adult males preying on young girls.

In any event, the issue isn't simply statutory rape, though that is part of it. It's creating a self-perpetuating, closed system that forces girls into early marriages with old men rather than allowing them to make life choices on their own when they are old enough to do so. The key principle is it's OK to tell your kids a lot of things that are BS or even harmful, as long as your kids retain the right to reject it all and choose a different life. And what makes FLDS-like situations so dangerous is the way they close themselves off from outside influences so that they can perpetuate the abuse.
4.24.2008 11:55pm
Gaius Marius:
So because I homeschool my children, and teach them that homosexual acts are sinful, that the Mexican Cristeros and the Vendeean rebels during the French Revolution are worthy role models, and that preservation of our liberty could require people to pick up guns and start killing gubmint agents, and because I find to my amusement that they seem to be even more reactionary than I am (I guess that constitutes "perpetuation of the cycle of abuse"), the state ought to step in and take them away from me?

Yes, if you live in the State of Texas.
4.25.2008 12:37am
Seamus (mail):
So because I homeschool my children, and teach them that homosexual acts are sinful, that the Mexican Cristeros and the Vendeean rebels during the French Revolution are worthy role models, and that preservation of our liberty could require people to pick up guns and start killing gubmint agents, and because I find to my amusement that they seem to be even more reactionary than I am (I guess that constitutes "perpetuation of the cycle of abuse"), the state ought to step in and take them away from me?

Yes, if you live in the State of Texas.


I understand that that's the implications of what the State of Texas is doing. I'd just like to know if Dilan Esper is OK with that. Instead of letting me know, he dodged the question. I'm not sure whether he was just being cute, or whether he seriously can't imagine that a reader of the Volkh Conspiracy might have my beliefs (and homeschool his children). But I pay good money for Home School Legal Defense Association dues every year just in case officiouis intermeddlers like him decide they could do a better job of raising my children (and preventing their "abuse" (read: teaching them "wrong" beliefs) than I can.
4.25.2008 11:01am
Seamus (mail):
Make that "officious".
4.25.2008 11:08am
Seamus (mail):
And insert a second right parenthesis after "beliefs".
4.25.2008 11:09am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I understand that that's the implications of what the State of Texas is doing. I'd just like to know if Dilan Esper is OK with that. Instead of letting me know, he dodged the question.

Look, if your children are exposed to other children and therefore there are checks on their behavior, I don't see the issue.

I would, however, see the issue if you secreted them off to a compound to do that and never let them out of the gate for anything.
4.25.2008 1:11pm
Seamus (mail):
You're not giving me a lot of comfort, Dilan. They sing in the choir at church, but I'm worried you might think that insufficient because their fellow choristers are likely to be reactionary papists too, and because even if they weren't, my children are only in their company a few hours a week. Oh, yeah, they also spend a couple of hours a week at the taekwondo dojang. Is that enough to save our house from a raid, or is it too short a time to counter the baleful influence of my teaching?

I'm not as extreme as some Catholic homeschoolers in Northern Virgnia, but there are others, who we like to jokingly refer to as "Amish," who are much more careful to isolate their children from what they regard as corrupting influences of the outside culture. (For example, they look down their noses at my wife because she sometimes wears pants.) I guess they (not to mention the *real* Amish) ought to be very fearful for their families if you ever come to power.
4.25.2008 2:38pm
eddiehaskel (mail):
It's amazing that disagreement with one's opinions equals hating America. All of the "conservatives" espousing there belief would have wanted most of the founders jailed for there "revolutionary" ideals (except that when the government steps in to protect children who are abused because of a particularly suspicious belief in the guise of "religion" then revolution against the government is okay and in fact proves my love of America because if I have the gun then I believe in America.

Is this really a "law" blog?
4.25.2008 2:56pm
Seamus (mail):
eddiehaskel:

Just who the hell are you responding to? I don't recall anyone saying anything here about jailing the founders.

But heck, I'm happy to play along. George III and the British Parliament never, in their wildest dreams, thoughth about taking people's children away from them because they taught they kept them taught them "bad" ideas, kept them isolated from competing ideas, or let them get married at age 14. If the British government had seriously attempted such a program, then resistance by the people of America would have been close to 100%, not the 1/3 that John Adams estimated. And there's no inconsistency in believing that the American colonists were not justified in taking up arms to resist the British taxation policy, but that they would have been richly justified in taking up arms to resist a policy of breaking up families in order to ensure they weren't "abused" by being taught bad things, while being isolated from competing beliefs.
4.25.2008 3:38pm
Seamus (mail):
Er, make that "thought about taking people's children away from them because they taught them 'bad' ideas".

I know, preview is my friend.
4.25.2008 3:40pm
Seamus (mail):
But hopefully, your religion doesn't teach you to sexually abuse children. That's a key difference, isn't it?

And the FLDS religion doesn't teach them to sexually abuse nursing children, so there's no key difference, is there?
4.28.2008 11:26am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Dilan's point is we're supposed to give him the power and trust him.
I have another idea: He doesn't get the power and so we don't have to trust him.
4.28.2008 11:38am