The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Take politics out of custody battle

Viewpoint by Terry Webster/ne news editor

A laundry list of unacceptable conditions comes to mind when we hear of a state agency removing a child from a home: substance abuse, neglect, physical abuse or inhumane living conditions.

Sometimes, a child is in clear danger. Other times, a situation is convoluted by an ugly divorce or other disputes.

But should a parent’s political beliefs play a role? That recently played out in a national spotlight.

Jonathon Irish and his girlfriend, Stephanie Taylor, had their infant daughter taken away Oct. 8 by a New Hampshire state agency. The infant was taken less than 24 hours after her birth. One reason, according to an affidavit from the agency, was Irish’s involvement in Oath Keepers.

Oath Keepers is a national organization of current military, peace officers, firefighters and veterans who support the Constitution, according to its website. The group declares its sworn loyalty is to uphold the Constitution and not a politician’s whims. This includes declarations of martial law or gun confiscation, the group says.

Oath Keepers clearly states it is not trying to overthrow the government. A New Hampshire bureaucrat  didn’t get that memo.

Oath Keepers was not the only issue at hand, however. The state alleged that Irish hit the baby’s mother and abused her children —allegations he denied. But the debate here is not whether the two are good parents. It’s whether Irish’s involvement in Oath Keepers justified taking away a child.

Understandably, Oath Keepers was alarmed over its mention in the paperwork. Concerns were aired over whether the incident would intimidate people from joining the group. Now the group is attempting to get its name removed from the affidavit and considering a lawsuit.

Then the state backpedaled, saying politics do not play a role in child safety issues. In an even stranger twist, the state returned the baby to the couple Oct. 15 under a court gag order.

Although this story ended in the parents’ favor, questions remain. Should any government agency determine what political beliefs are appropriate? When should politics be grounds for life-altering decisions? How are extreme political views defined?

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