Texas had no right to take children from polygamists

This court case could eventually lead to the same rights for polygamists as is being demanded for homosexuals. I think that the courts are going to have a hard time differentiating these different types of relationships between consenting adults. In any case, this is just the first in a string of decisions. David Friedman has been following the case very closely. The latest developments can be seen here.

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 compound last month.

The Third Court of Appeals in Austin said the state failed to show the youngsters were in any immediate danger, the only grounds in Texas law for taking children from their parents without court action.

It was not clear when the children — now scattered in foster homes across the state — might be returned to their parents. The ruling gave a lower-court judge 10 days to release the youngsters from custody, but the state could appeal to the Texas Supreme Court and block that. . . . .

The Houston Chronicle reports:

In the decision, the 3rd Court ruled that CPS failed to provide any evidence that the children were in imminent danger. It said state acted hastily in removing them from their families.

The agency had argued that the children on the ranch were either abused or at risk of abuse. The Texas Family Code allows a judge to consider whether the "household" to which a child would be returned includes a person who has sexually abused another child. Child welfare officials alleged that the polygamist sect's practice of marrying underage girls to older men places all its children at risk of sexual abuse.

"The existence of the FLDS belief system as described by the Department’s witnesses, by itself, does not put children of FLDS parents in physical danger," said the unanimous ruling by the three-judge panel of the 3rd Court. "Removing children from their homes on an emergency basis before fully litigating the issue of whether the parents should continue to have custody of the children is an extreme measure.



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