Dispatches from the Creation Wars

I can’t imagine what on earth he’s thinking, but Cale Bradford, Chief Judge of the Marion Superior Court in Indiana, has issued the most blatantly unconstitutional opinion I’ve ever heard of. In a divorce in which both of the parents are Wiccan, the judge placed a provision in the divorce decree forbidding them from exposing their son to “non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals.” The parents have filed an appeal to have this provision struck from the decree, and I cannot imagine they could possibly lose that appeal. I had the same reaction upon reading this as their attorney did:

“When they read the order to me, I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding,'” said Alisa G. Cohen, an Indianapolis attorney representing Jones. “Didn’t the judge get the memo that it’s not up to him what constitutes a valid religion?”

Apparently not. One wonders where the judge got his law degree, from Billy Bob’s Law School and Bait Shop?

Comments

  1. #1 carpundit
    May 26, 2005

    It is an absolutely stunning ruling. I think it calls into question the judge’s fitness for the bar, let alone the bench. I wonder if he’s elected….

  2. #2 spyder
    May 26, 2005

    the Indianapolis newspaper’s version is surprisingly well balanced for that part of the country– It would seem that if one of the parents were actually a devout fundamentalist or even “mainstream” christian, the judge’s ruling could, on a very tenuous level, seem rational. But the fact that both parents find the passage abhorrent and in violation of their First Amendment rights as Wiccans, this judge has provided an all new meaning to the concept “judical activism.”

  3. #3 Sherman Dorn
    May 26, 2005

    I’ve known the father’s lawyer for several years and all I can say is, go Alisa!

  4. #4 Michelangelo
    May 26, 2005

    But the fact that both parents find the passage abhorrent and in violation of their First Amendment rights as Wiccans, this judge has provided an all new meaning to the concept “judical activism.”

    Yet another incidence of the current conservative “principle:” an “activist judge” is simply a judge who issues an opinion a conservative doesn’t agree with. I would bet there are a great many conservatives out there quietly cheering Judge Bradford’s galactically bigoted and un-Constitutional action, in spite of the fact that it is absolute “judicial activism.”

  5. #5 John
    May 26, 2005

    I am curious, could this not be justified under strict contruction doctrine. After all, the first amendment says only that Congress shall make no law. Congress made no law.

  6. #6 Dave S.
    May 26, 2005

    I am curious, could this not be justified under strict contruction doctrine. After all, the first amendment says only that Congress shall make no law. Congress made no law.

    But what about the 14th ammendment John?

    To remove a freedom, you’d have to have a compelling reason. Which in this case is … ?

  7. #7 Ed Brayton
    May 26, 2005

    John wrote:

    I am curious, could this not be justified under strict contruction doctrine. After all, the first amendment says only that Congress shall make no law. Congress made no law.

    The fact that it says Congress does not mean that the courts are free to violate the free exercise clause at will, or the executive branch for that matter. They have long been held to the same standards, as well they should be.

  8. #8 John
    May 26, 2005

    Thanks, Ed.

    I think I’ll go over to the Free Republic to see how this is justified.

  9. #9 Grumpy
    May 26, 2005

    Don’t worry about this Bradford character; he won’t be stinking up the Indiana court much longer.

    I see a federal appointment in his future!!

  10. #10 spyder
    May 26, 2005

    There is a whole range of deconstructs in Bradford’s written orders. The order tends to define “mainstream” religion as opposed to religions, which would be a violation of the establishment clause. The order assumes that a religion that is a few thousand years old is not sufficiently “mainstream” versus ones that are only a few hundred years old. The order mandates a prohibition based on the assumption that given an unspecified set of community standards and behaviors, the school and community in which the children live is itself intolerant of non-mainstream religions. How would one make such a determination??

  11. #11 Chris Krolczyk
    May 26, 2005

    From the Star piece:

    “There is a discrepancy between Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones’ lifestyle and the belief system adhered to by the parochial school. . . . Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones display little insight into the confusion these divergent belief systems will have upon (the boy) as he ages,” the bureau said in its report.

    Let me get this straight: Bradford sees fit to flush the establishment clause of the First Amendment down the toilet, and he insists that it’s the Jones’ kid who’ll be “confused?”

    Riiiiiight.

  12. #12 Dustin
    May 28, 2005

    There is a discrepancy between Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones’ lifestyle and the belief system adhered to by the parochial school. . . . Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones display little insight into the confusion these divergent belief systems will have upon (the boy) as he ages,” the bureau said in its report.

    So does this mean that if I’m protestant, my wife is mormon, and the school my son goes to is run by catholics he too wil be overly confused and that his religious upringing would also be subject to court intervention?

  13. #13 Some_Yahoo
    May 31, 2005

    I am a member of the religious right, but this ruling is way-out wacky. Couple that with the sure knowledge that whatever you ban a kid from doing instantly becomes 1000% more interesting to him, you have to realize that his fate is practially sealed.

    “Why can’t I go to school on wicca day?”

    “Because you are forbidden by court order from being exposed to wicca”.

    “Please! I promise I won’t dance nude around anything!”

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