View Full Version : Wall Street Journal Law Blog: Oregon High Court Grapples With Circumcision Dispute

01-28-2008, 08:31 PM
:eek: Glad this guy's not my dad!!! :eek:

Oregon High Court Grapples With Circumcision Dispute

Remember that circumcision case we posted on in September? Yesterday, the Oregon Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the dispute. Here’s the NY Sun story.

The case pits divorced parents named James and Lia Boldt against each other. The father, a lawyer, recently converted to Judaism and wants to circumcise his 12-year-old son, over whom he has full custody. The mother doesn’t want the circumcision to take place. It’s not clear what the kid wants. The lower court dismissed the wife’s challenge, and she’s appealing the decision.

Yesterday, the mother’s attorney Clay Patrick — a self described “lawyer’s lawyer” — told the court that the circumcision posed “an unreasonable and unnecessarily high risk to the child.” Patrick said that even though the father had full custody, the mother was entitled to a court hearing because the procedure amounts to “sex abuse or physical abuse.” He said to the judges: “If the custodial parent wanted to amputate some other body part, I think the court would step in and say you can’t do that.”

The father represented himself. A justice asked: Should the child’s wishes be taken into account? “The child’s wishes, while of course they should be considered, are not legally decisive or, legally speaking, relevant,” he said. Another judge asked whether custodial parents had the right to impose genital mutilation or a nose job “on children whose faces are just fine.” Boldt said he thought a custodial parent could do anything to a child that wasn’t illegal, but said that there were some actions that could call into question a parent’s fitness, like “a swastika on the forehead.” But not the circumcision of a 12-year-old.

The father has also raised a religious freedom issue, and several Jewish organizations filed this amicus brief. “Enabling the circumcision of a child, whether as part of a religious conversion or for medical reasons, cannot as a matter of law indicate any infirmity in a parent’s ability to function as a parent,” says the brief. “Moreover, any decision to single out circumcision as a basis for questioning the fitness of the custodial parent would violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion.” (Apparently the judges yesterday spent little time on this argument.)

NYU Law professor Geoffrey Miller told the Sun that Oregon Supremes appear to be the highest-ranking American court to hear a dispute involving circumcision. “It will be a precedent that will be closely paid attention to by people who are interested in that debate,” he said. “I would be quite shocked or at least surprised if the result in the Oregon Supreme Court undoes what the lower courts said.”

Readers, which way will this cut?


01-28-2008, 08:32 PM
Almost as good as the Bog Loblaw law blog. :D

Javy Pornstache
01-29-2008, 01:51 AM
Well, WilyMo, I was just gonna make a Bob Loblaw Law Blog reference, now that that's already been taken, I see nothing here but conversation about the actual topic, so I'm gonna go ahead and step this way now.....


01-29-2008, 02:24 AM
LMAO Javy!!!

:laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

01-29-2008, 04:26 PM
It is an interesting case. As the child is a minor what difference does it make that he is 12 years old instead of 12 days? Will the decision look at parental notification laws regarding minors and abortions? Is there an age when the child's wishes concerning a medical procedure will be considered? At what age does the minor's views on religion outweigh the parents? Can the case be dragged through the courts until he reaches the age of majority in Oregon? Will the Court leave the lower court's ruling entact or will they cut away a portion to overturn? Will the kid ever be able to show his face in middle school again or will he be ribbed unmercifully?

01-29-2008, 04:47 PM
Readers, which way will this cut?


Personally, I would be interested to see the court opinion if this was a non-mainstream religion who wanted the right to ritually let blood or some other pain inducing mutilation with potential lasting psychological impact.

I think the child does have the right to be free of harm from a unnecessary medical procedure.