Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Awesome Power of the Family Courts

Do you think judges should have the power to decide what religion your children must belong to and which schools they must attend? Family courts are the most dictatorial and biased of all U.S. courts, routinely depriving divorced fathers of due process rights and authority over their own children, but this past December a Chicago judge went beyond the pale.

Cook County Circuit Judge Edward Jordan issued a restraining order to prohibit Joseph Reyes from taking his three-year-old daughter to any non-Jewish religious activities because his ex-wife argued that would contribute to "the emotional detriment of the child." Mrs. Reyes wants to raise her daughter in the Jewish religion, and the judge sided with the mother. Joseph Reyes' attorney said, when he saw the judge's restraining order, "I almost fell off my chair. I thought maybe we were in Afghanistan and this was the Taliban."

Doesn't the First Amendment extend to fathers? Apparently not if they are divorced. This case sounds extreme, but it's a very good illustration of how family courts, which are the lowest in the judicial hierarchy, have become the most dictatorial of all courts because of the tremendous number of families and amounts of private money they control and the lack of accountability for their decisions.

Last month I told you about another recent divorce case in which a family court in New Hampshire ordered ten-year-old Amanda Kurowski to quit being homeschooled by her mother and instead to attend fifth grade in the local public school. Judge Lucinda Sadler approved the court-appointed expert's view that Amanda reflected "her mother's rigidity on questions of faith" and that Amanda "would be best served by exposure to multiple points of view."

Where did family court judges get the power to decide what church and what school the children of divorced parents must attend? Tune in tomorrow for the answer.

Listen to this commentary:

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