Defending the Rights of Polygamists/ACLU Re-Considers

 Wendy Kaminer
        Last month, I criticized the Texas ACLU for its timidity in defense of liberty when Texas authorities raided the polygamous “Search for Zion,” compound, forcibly removed some 460 children from their parents, on the basis of one anonymous phone call (since determined to be a hoax,) and then ordered mandatory DNA testing for everyone.  ("Defending the Mormon Polygamists") So it's a bit of a relief to hear the ACLU finally speaking up with a little conviction about the consequent violations of individual rights.  Actually the ACLU didn’t go so far as to accuse the state of constitutional violations; it expressed “serious concerns that the state’s actions so far have not adequately protected the fundamental rights at stake,” stressing that hundreds of children were taken from their parents absent individualized determinations of abuse and objecting to mandatory DNA testing.   The ACLU doesn’t appear to be taking any action in the case, but it does promise to continue “to monitor unfolding events .. . making our views known to the Texas courts at appropriate points in the judicial proceedings.”  In other words, at some future point the ACLU is likely to submit an amicus brief in a case brought by one of the parties.  It’s the least the ACLU can do (and perhaps the most it will do.)
         Meanwhile, hundreds of hapless children raised in a Mormon fundamentalist compound have been consigned to the notorious Texas foster care system, where according to a 2006 study cited in the New York Times, “more than half of all foster children ages 13 to 17 were being given psychotropic drugs to control behavior.”  According to a 2004 report, “children with violent criminal records were being mixed in the general foster care population and …medically fragile children were underserved.”  It seems likely that some children who escaped abuse in the Search for Zion compound will encounter it in the Texas child welfare system.

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