Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The new Rosa Parks

Joseph Reyes compared himself to Rosa Parks on ABC TV 20/20, as I commented below.

I interpret this religion is not the only issue. He is fed up with his ex-wife Shapiro and the court eliminating him from any parental responsibilities toward his daughter. The court order against Christianity was just the final straw.

Rosa Parks was not just objecting to a bus seating policy. She was objecting to Jim Crow laws that made blacks (or negroes as they were called then) second-class citizens. The bus policy was just a particularly egregious civil rights violation. So she was willing to commit civil disobedience. Likewise, Joseph Reyes is willing to make a stand against a particularly outrageous order.

The only people I hear taking the ex-wife's side are those who say that a court order should be obeyed whether it is rightfully issued or not. You cannot take the law into your own hands, they say. They would have told Rosa Parks the same thing, I guess.

I don't know about Illinois law. In most states, you can be punished for violating a wrongly-issued order. In California, you are not required to obey an unconstitutional order. Of course judges enforce their own orders, and it is nearly impossible to convince them that the order is wrong.

At least Reyes has drawn national attention to how the family court can overreach.

The most annoying thing about the 20/20 TV show is that the interviewer kept suggesting that Reyes and Shapiro should call each other on the phone to resolve this. The questions were foolish.

There is a common myth that all disputes result from deficient communication. Psychologists and others promote this myth because they can hope to solve the problems by facilitating communication.

But Reyes and Shapiro have already communicated themselves with crystal clarity. No additional communication will solve anything, or even clarify anything. That phone call is pointless. Suggesting a phone call is like telling Rosa Parks to talk to the white people on the bus.

I am afraid that some people might go away from the 20/20 TV show thinking that both parents were stubborn and unreasonable, and the court was only trying to make the best of a bad situation. But Reyes has not asked for anything unreasonable, and the problem is entirely the making of the court. This was a Jewish judge who decided to favor the Jewish religion and zero out Reyes's parental rights.

Update: A reader writes:
you seem to ignore this claim of the mother's:
"Rebecca said that Joseph is entitled to be Catholic and Ela can choose
Catholicism when she is older, but they "had pledged in the marriage contract to raise Jewish children, and so we had a Jewish home." Joseph had converted to Judaism, complete with a ritualized circumcision."
shouldn't there be witnesses to this "marriage contract?" seems rather cut and dry to me. if dad did in fact enter into such a contract, this is a violation the judge should correct.
They also pledged to stay married. So the first question would be whether they agreed that the choice of religion should survive after the marriage. I doubt it. Rebecca doesn't say anything about that.

Second question is whether a religious choice contract should ever be enforceable. The answer is no, as far as I know. You cannot will your money to your kids on the condition that they actively subscribe to the Jewish faith. That is because there is a centuries-old legal tradition that religion is a personal choice and no court will enforce a contract about the matter.

Maybe there ought to be some way to have a specially-witnessed contract to legally bind parents regarding child-rearing. But family court law goes to the other extreme, and says that no such contract is binding. Any such contract is overridden by the BIOTCH standard that allows a judge to decide the best interest of the child, regardless of whatever contract there might be.


Anonymous said...

I agree with everything except your point about it being a jewish judge. You may in fact, be right, although there would be nothing new about a family court judge simply, just making another stupid order or decision, regardless of his own particular faith, too.

Over all, great content and commentary by you, George.

George said...

Non-Jewish judges make bad decisions also. The vast majority of bad judges are not Jewish.

The family court judges do rule based on their own personal prejudices. They do it all the time. Usually they are non-religious prejudices. I mention the judge being Jewish as an example of the prejudice that a judge can have.