It Takes A Village (of Judges and Bureaucrats)

Friday, December 16th, 2005 11:40 am by cyclops

Today’s Washington Times reports on the growing trend of judges taking into account the smoking behavior of parents when deciding child custody cases. Here’s the link and an excerpt:

Anti-smoking activists who are driving cigarettes from public places across the country are now targeting private homes — especially those with children.

Their efforts so far have contributed to regulations in three states — Maine, Oklahoma and Vermont — forbidding foster parents from smoking around children. Parental smoking also has become a critical point in some child-custody cases, including ones in Virginia and Maryland.

In a highly publicized Virginia case, a judge barred Caroline County resident Tamara Silvius from smoking around her children as a condition for child visitation.

Mrs. Silvius, a waitress at a truck stop in Doswell, Va., calls herself “highly disappointed” with the court’s ruling.

“I’m an adult. Who is anybody to tell me I can’t smoke or drink?” she said in an interview yesterday.

Poor Mrs. Silvius. She’s so naive. She doesn’t appreciate that the do-gooders seek to rule every aspect of her life and that of her kids. Seriously, where does this intervention stop? Can a judge consider the children’s diet? television consumption? What about whether the household has a gun? Parent’s education?

Historically, the test for child custody in most states has been “the best interest of the child”, obviously a broad standard allowing the judge to consider many factors. But, as this trend illustrates, many judges in this country have no regard for self-regulation and discretion. They are more than willing to allow their preconceptions and prejudices to determine the outcome of serious decisions.

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