With no thanks to the national ACLU, and other suddenly silent, supposed defenders of civil liberties, the Third Court of Appeals in Texas just did the right thing in denouncing the outrageous government raid on the FLDS sect, and reversing the boneheaded trial court ruling. The appellate court's opinion is here. The appellate court, to its great credit, has echoed the concerns raised by those of us who are truly concerned about civil liberties, no matter whose liberties they are, and who are not afraid to say so publicly.
I have previously denounced the actions of the Texas authorities in unnecessarily and wrongly wreaking havoc upon hundreds of families, and I have joined a few others in criticizing the dishonest way in which the Texas government has done so, in what has become the biggest custody case in this country. But I say again: Shame, shame on the Texas authorities for their damn lies and statistics, their false pretexts, all leading to their illegal raid on an unpopular religious community, and traumatization of hundreds of families. Hopefully the court's ruling will not be too little, too late, for the hundreds of completely innocent individuals, and especially their victimized children, the vast majority of whom can only be proven to have been mistreated by the government that presumes to protect them.
And shame, shame on the media for covering this story in a politically correct fashion, and thereby misleading the public by easily succumbing to the government's obvious media manipulation. For more on this, see my three previous posts on this, Destroying the Polygamist Village to Save It, From Aluminum Tubes to Broken Bones: Texans, Lies and Statistics, and More On The Texas Polygamy Scare and The Civil Liberties Non-Scare, linking to previous stories and blog posts from Grits for Breakfast, and The Volokh Conspiracy, Wendy Kaminer, The Polygamy Files, and the few other voices around the country who have courageously come out in favor of the law, the constitution, civil liberties, and sanity, while they have also simultaneously, and virtually alone, reported accurately on this story to fill in for the most prominent national reporters and commentators who have cowardly gone AWOL. OK, rant over.
SAN ANGELO, Texas - In a ruling that could torpedo the case against the West Texas polygamist sect, a state appeals court Thursday said authorities had no right to seize more than 440 children in a raid on the splinter group's ranch last month.
It was unclear how many children were affected by the ruling. The state took 464 children into custody in April, but Thursday's ruling directly applied to the children of 48 sect mothers represented by the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aide, said Cynthia Martinez of the agency. About 200 parents are involved in the polygamy case.
The Third Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that the state offered "legally and factually insufficient" grounds for the "extreme" measure of removing all children from the ranch, from babies to teenagers.
The state never provided evidence that the children were in any immediate danger, the only grounds in Texas law for taking children from their parents without court approval, the appeals court said.
It also failed to show evidence that more than five of the teenage girls were being sexually abused, and never alleged any sexual or physical abuse against the other children, the court said.
It was not immediately clear whether the children scattered across foster facilities statewide might soon be reunited with parents. The ruling gave Texas District Judge Barbara Walther 10 days to vacate her custody order, and the state could appeal.
For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.