The definitions and criteria for findings of abuse make the child's safety paramount by calling for anything from mandated counseling to emergency removal and placement of the child or children in foster care.
However, when the statutes also outline parental rights for a prompt reunion with their children, the rules change (regardless of the findings of "mental and emotional" harm). The law sets a different standard. Only a "continuing danger to the physical health and safety of the child" can prevent the reunion. Involuntary termination of a child - parent relationship requires danger to "physical health or safety:"
262.201 (c) If the court finds sufficient evidence to satisfy a person of ordinary prudence and caution that there is a continuing danger to the physical health or safety of the child and for the child to remain in the home is contrary to the welfare of the child, the court shall issue an appropriate temporary order under Chapter 105."
The statute on parental rights of reunion was the basis for the Court's ruling that upheld the return of the children to their parents. Among the other evidence, the Court failed to find numerous pictures of Jeffs kissing under aged children persuasive enough to defer the reunions.
The "Per curium" (for the court) ruling noted that the: "Thirty-eight mothers petitioned the court of appeals for review by mandamus, seeking return of their 126 children. The record reflects that at least 117 of the children are under 13 and that two boys are 13 and 17." Given the propensities established by their former leader's conviction in Utah and the photographs of Jeffs' with children, the risks seem more than apparent.
Absent the findings of DNA testing which would establish with certainty any incestuous marriages, the question of incest as an accepted practice in the compound cannot be ruled out. Yet the court chose to return all of these children to an environment that violates the most fundamental laws of society - intimacy with minors and incest. It did this by focusing on the reunion requirements of Texas statutes, "physical" safety, rather than the risk for "mental and emotional injury," the emergency discovered by protective service workers."
Higher Authorities Not Consulted
While Texas statues present contradictory values concerning the safety of children and the extreme dangers of incestuous sexual unions, two disparate authorities on incest are precise about the paramount importance of maintaining the incest taboo.
One of Sigmund Freud's most influential works was the Totem and Taboo. He commented on the comprehensive ban on incest even in primitive societies:
"We should certainly not expect that the sexual life of these poor naked cannibals would be moral in our sense or that their sexual instincts would be subjected to any great degree of restriction. Yet we find that they set before themselves with the most scrupulous care and the most painful severity the aims of avoiding incestuous sexual relations. Indeed, their whole social organization seems to serve that purpose or to have been brought into relation with its attainment."
Those who look to another type of authority are aware of the biblical position on this matter. Leviticus, Chapter 18, verses 5 through 19. It outlines the severe admonitions against incest stated as a matter of life and death:
"5) Keep, then, my statutes and decrees, for the man who carries them out will find life through them. I am the LORD. 6) None of you shall approach a close relative to have sexual inte rcourse with her. I am the LORD. 7) You shall not disgrace your father by having intercourse with your mother. Besides, since she is your own mother, you shal l not have intercourse with her. 8) You shall not have intercourse with your father's wife, for that would be a disgrace to your father. 9) You shall not have intercourse with your sister, your father's daughter or your mother's daughter, whether she was born in your own household or born elsewhere." Etc.
The ruling by the Texas Supreme Court is an assault on widely prevailing standards of conduct and common sense. Every person "of ordinary prudence and caution" would say: Get the children out of there immediately; keep them away until an investigation is completed and their safety is assured!
As a result, the ruling creates the potential for a huge public backlash. This Texas Supreme Court is, after all, is supposed to be a law and order court, one noted for its conservative doctrine. Where in conservative doctrine can you find any support for this type of decision? Where in any doctrine, but the most offensive and bizarre, is there a justification?
What safety does the law offer to any of us if this type of decision can be rendered and upheld?
How can the concurring justices remain seated on the Court after making a decision that results in the return of children to an environment that may well represent a center for deviance beyond the ability of most to comprehend?