An New York court of appeals has ordered a mother to remove a rock painted with the confederate flag in her front lawn by July 1 or face a child custody hearing.
A New York state court of appeals in Albany has told a mother that she has 2 months to remove a rock painted with the confederate flag from her lawn or face the possibility of losing custody of her daughter. The child is mixed race and the court decided that the painting on the rock may go against the child's best interest.
In the decision the judge wrote, "Given that the child is of mixed race, it would seem apparent that the presence of the flag is not in the child’s best interests, as the mother must encourage and teach the child to embrace her mixed race identity, rather than thrust her into a world that only makes sense through the tortured lens of cognitive dissonance," The judge said that the "presence of the Confederate flag," when "viewed pragmatically," "is a symbol inflaming the already strained relationship between the parties,"
The court's decision shocked the divorced parents appearing in front of the court as the rock had not been a serious issue in the proceedings previously. In the original hearing, the father did bring up the rock in a broader argument on why is home is better suited for the child but did not make it the centre of attention as the court of appeals did. The couple has joint custody of the 7 year-old, the mother is seeking to limit the father to just every second weekend while the father seeks full custody.
"Although not addressed by Family Court or the attorney for the child, the mother’s testimony at the hearing, as well as an exhibit admitted into evidence, reveal that she has a small confederate flag painted on a rock near her driveway,"the judge wrote.
The attorney for the child, Jason Leifer, said the judge "pulled something out of a hat," and represents the shock at the decision. Leifer told the New York Post, "Bringing politics into the family court is probably the worst possible thing you could do, and it seems like that’s what the appellate division has opened the door to."
Michael Stutman, chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Matrimonial Law Committee said, "I think that it is a rather astonishing extension of wokeness in now that the door seems to be opening that someone’s political viewpoint reflects on their fitness as a parent," Stutman called the decision a "dangerous statement" and added, "You could easily find a conservative court saying that a person who flies a rainbow pride flag on their front door is an unfit parent because that judge does not believe in sexual choices"
Stutman concluded, "I don’t think that such a decision would ever stand constitutional challenge," he continued, "It is one of the clearest infringements on someone’s free speech by the state to have a court threaten to restrict a parents’ rights to their child based upon … the propriety of a person’s political beliefs." The child'a attorney Leifer echoed that sentiment saying, "Hopefully it’ll be fixed by the Court of Appeals."