From The Progressive: Tennessee Judge to Decide Whether Mexican Immigrant Has Learned Enough English to Keep Her Child
|April 16, 2005|
It was not your usual judge's order in a case about the potential termination of parental rights. Last October, Judge Barry Tatum of Wilson County, Tennessee, gave a Mexican woman, who is accused of neglect, six months to learn English up to the fourth-grade level or else he would proceed with the trial that could force her to relinquish her 11-year-old daughter.
The six-month period is up on Monday, April 18, and the judge has set a hearing on Monday to determine whether the woman, who speaks Mixteco, has learned enough English. "The court specially informs the mother that if she does not make the effort to learn English, she is running the risk of losing any connection--legally, morally, and physically--with her daughter forever," the judge wrote in his original order, according to news accounts. "If the mother is able to learn English, she will be able to speak with her daughter for the first time in a substantive manner and will show her that she loves her and is willing to do anything necessary to connect with her."
The woman's attorney, Jerry Gonzalez, told The Progressive that the ruling was "outrageous and unconstitutional." He added, "It's in violation of every juvenile rule, every statute, and the constitution--no matter how you want to interpret it."
In a similar case in January, Judge Tatum ordered a woman from Mexico to learn English and use birth control or risk losing custody of her child. In court, he said he was trying to avoid a "Tower of Babel" situation, the Lebanon Democrat reported. The judge was evidently referring to Genesis Chapter 11, where God punishes man for having the arrogance to build a tower into the skies. Before the punishment, everyone was speaking the same language. But then God decided to "confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech."
Gonzalez says it was not proper for the judge to invoke the Tower of Babel. "We don't live in a biblical theocracy," he says. "The judge doesn't take an oath to obey the law and the bible, but the law and the Constitution." (Gonzalez also points out that, according to the Bible, it's God's will that people now speak different languages, so Judge Tatum is misinterpreting the Tower of Babel story.)
Judge Tatum has made similar rulings in three other cases, according to NewsMax.com and the Los Angeles Times....
What can one possibly say? Obviously not all the nutjobs are working in the White House or on Capitol Hill.