Remember the judge in Tennessee who unilaterally forced a child’s name to be changed from Messiah to something else, over the objections of both parents (who were in court to argue over the child’s last name)? She’s now facing formal judicial ethics charges over it.
A Tennessee judge who ordered a baby’s name changed from Messiah to Martin, saying the former was reserved for Jesus Christ, has been cited by a court panel for an inappropriate religious bias in violation of the state judicial code of conduct…
“The word ‘messiah’ is a title, and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person, and that one person is Jesus Christ,” the magistrate told Tennessee television station WBIR at the time.
The parents appealed, and in September another judge, Chancellor Telford Forgety Jr., held that Ballew’s ruling was unconstitutional.
The parents, who have since dropped their dispute over the last name, have continued to call the boy Messiah DeShawn McCullough.
A three-member investigative panel of the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct concluded this week there was “reasonable cause to believe (Ballew) has committed judicial offenses,” and directed the state board’s disciplinary counsel to file the charges, according to a document obtained from a court clerk.
The judicial code the panel cited centers on a clause that says religion and other personal biases must not play roles when judges are performing their duties.
The judge can now respond to those allegations and a hearing will be held, at which point the panel can impose sanctions on the judge. And they absolutely should do so.