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Demographic Nonsense

Every now and again I come across a fantastic article the warrants posting here; I recently came across one in Splice Today which, I thought, was pretty insightful. Be edified.

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Today, when we try to explain political results or describe the political landscape, we often do it in terms of which demographic groups—genders, races, orientations, classes, regions—voted for whom. And as political consultants and politicians try to win elections, they start the same way; they try to figure out how to dominate among white suburban women, for example. I’ve argued that politics relying on exploiting demographics—a style and a strategy more and more relentlessly prosecuted by both parties—is a contradictory nonsense, as well as a terribly unfortunate attempt to make the divisions between Americans ever more extreme. Here, I’m going to elaborate on articles I wrote for The Wall Street Journal.

First, it’s all rather evil.  The basic approach of the Clinton campaign, according to its own strategists and surrogates—white guys such as Robby Mook and Joel Benenson—was to focus on relentlessly on turning out “women and minorities.” As demographics shift, they’ve long held, Democrats will dominate this growing segment of the population, and hence elections. (There is one problem here; the category “women and minorities” makes no sense.)

This has been a strategy for the last several cycles, in particular since the emergence of the “gender gap” in the 1990s; it was relentless in 2016. And I think it’s fair to say that Republicans have implicitly focused on white people and men as their basic constituency for decades, at least since Nixon played “the Southern card.” In Trump/Bannon nationalism, with its throwback style of sexuality and racial signaling, this appeal has become explicit.

In 2016, both sides leaned heavily on demographic analyses in deciding where the candidate should appear, for example, or in figuring out how to assemble an Electoral College majority. Particularly for the Democrats, however, this style of analysis is breathtakingly incoherent. The electoral coalition they imagine—of women, minorities, urban dwellers, gay and trans people—is conceptually impossible. The simplest way to see this is that the population cannot be split into two groups, women/minorities and men/white people.

A majority of American women are white, while half the members of racial minority groups are men. A coalition in which one party represents women and minorities and the other represents men and white people splits each of the white women and each of the minority men right between the hemispheres of their brains. Mook and Benenson were calling on people’s race to vote against their gender, and vice versa. If people can’t undergo fission into their demographic memberships—if, for example, a black, straight, middle-class man can’t be pulled apart into four different voters—this is all nonsense.

As a matter of fact, Trump won white women, leading to an outraged feminist condemnation of their reactionary sisters. Didn’t they know they were women first and white people second? Trump also did surprisingly well among minority men. These splits could continue to grow as the parties try to maximize them, and neither party would win an enduring advantage.

If I want to vote the way the parties want me to vote, and I am, for example, a rural straight Latino female, how would I proceed? The parties not only want to slice up the population and turn bits of it against the other bits, but to slice up each of us and, I suppose, turn us against ourselves, or force this poor sap to figure out whether she’s more straight than female, or more rural than Latino.

This does, in part, explain the interminable deadlock of our politics. Even as Democrats wait for demographic shifts to carry them to power, the growing minority population is half-male, the growing out-gay population is mostly white, and so on. Almost any way they try to maximize the demographic advantages they believe will serve them will also maximize the advantages of their opponents. We’re likely to be stuck here for a long time.

The parties got into this hell through polling, which has dominated every campaign. You can poll women, and you can poll white people. These two polls deliver different numbers; they appear to focus on different demographic segments. But the populations overlap at a rate of 50 percent, and your appeal is liable to alienate the other 50. These data heads seem clever, but they’re making howling mistakes.

If there’s a stage further into or beyond demographic politics, it may be signaled by Cambridge-Analytica-style “psychometrics.” The Democrats were still operating in 2016 at the primitive and incoherent level of large demographic segments, but the data analysis and targeting tools that are coming online now promise to target voters, or consumers, “down to the level of the individual.” If that were indeed possible, it might to some extent overcome the sort of conceptual problems I’m identifying. The Trump’s campaign’s micro-targeting, as opposed to the Dems’ primitive approach to the electorate in terms of large-scale groups demographic segments, might in part explain how Trump beat Clinton.

Micro-targeting might also lead to more sophisticated manipulations, more divisive appeals to group identities, smaller echo chambers. And yet if they come into my social media feeds appealing to my eccentric politics or consumption behavior as well as my demographic memberships—if they really atomize their appeals down to the level of individuals—the lines between groups might liquify a little.

I’m a white, heterosexual, rural male. And yet, if I were forced to choose sides among the demographic parties, I’d choose to go with the women and minorities (or I would, if the category were coherent). I don’t mean to make parties representing male whites and female people of color precisely morally equivalent, and the historical oppression exercised by people like me would make me go in the opposite direction; I don’t want to be in the racist, sexist party (though I also don’t want to be in the statist party). But, standing outside the process, it’s hard not to notice the cumulative effects of both parties together trying to maximize the gender and racial gaps. It’s tearing the country apart, at the scale of whole regions and groups, but also in villages, offices and families.

We might say that demographic politics imply a theory of human identity in which each of us is a stack or collage of memberships in social groups, in which each of us is a race/gender/nationality/orientation/class. Our behavior, and in particular our consumption and political behavior, is supposed to follow out of this stack, and hence to be manipulated through these memberships, which call out loyalties and real interests, but which are also in conflict, between the groups or within the self.

I wonder whether that exhausts the way you understand your self, whether that’s all you are or all you might aspire to be.

By Crispin Sartwell published on March 26, 2018 in Splice Today and can be seen here.

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American Airlines Flight Attendants To Appeal Facebook Harassment Ruling

The Melissa Chinery and Laura Medlin cases against American Airlines, cases currently being litigated by my firm, the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C., have been featured in an article entitled “American Airlines Flight Attendants To Appeal Facebook Harassment Ruling,” in Savvy Stews b published on September 2, 2018, which can be found here.

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We’ve all read company policy regarding employee conduct on social media sites. Although one would assume that these policies are there to put a stop to and even prevent workplace bullying, they are only useful if companies enforce them.

In a blow to two American Airlines flight attendants this week, Judge Eduardo C. Robreno ruled that the evidence of workplace bullying and harassment brought forth by flight attendants Melissa Chinery and Laura Medlin was insufficient and untimely. The harassment was also experienced by several additional women who issued affidavits but were not part of the lawsuit itself.

The worst part, American Airlines didn’t do a thing to stop it in the first place.

“The company called me when this all started. My flight service manager said that he was getting calls that I was being harassed publicly on Facebook. My manager called me, then failed to take any action to stop the problem” – Chinery

Faye Riva Cohen, the law firm that represents the plaintiffs, issued the following statement:

“We are disappointed by the Judge’s decision.  Our clients were victims of gender-based discrimination. Given the unique nature of social media, the harassment our clients experienced was all-pervasive and impossible to escape. We believe that the Judge failed to adequately consider the power of social media and its impact on the workplace.

Additionally, we believe that American Airlines acted improperly. American Airlines maintains a social media policy that is used to police the online conduct of its employees. Nevertheless, American Airlines failed to take our clients’ complaints seriously. Until employers treat online bullying with the severity that it deserves, women will continue to be at a disadvantage in the workplace. Our clients are weighing their options to appeal the decision.”

Ms. Chinery shares, The company called me when this all started. My flight service manager said that he was getting calls that I was being harassed publicly on Facebook. My manager called me, then failed to take any action to stop the problem. No apologies from anyone, just an escalated attack.”

RINGLEADER EMBOLDENED BY RULING

Jim Brown, one of the flight attendants accused of the harassment, began gloating on Facebook immediately following the judge’s ruling. He may have spoken too soon since the plaintiffs are planning to appeal the judge’s decision which could legally expose him and American Airlines.

Jim Brown, accused of harassment, has been given cushy positions in the Purser program and others.

In his deposition, Jim Brown admitted to sending a complaint to the company about Chinery that he thought would be anonymous. He also admitted fabricating a story regarding referring to Chinery as “flipper” (slang for “whore”) “to cover my tracks by creating another post and a fake person” (from Brown’s deposition). Despite lying about his words, Brown remains a member of several committees and in the training department and to date has not been investigated. He continues to publicly post on social media, on the day of Judge Robreno’s ruling, saying he was, “Feeling delighted… My message is about Karma working it’s [sic] judicious magic!”

BROWN-NOSING HAS ITS PRIVILEGES?

American Airlines has yet to investigate the harassment claims internally and the men named in the lawsuit remain on special projects, in training positions, and continue to be rewarded with promotions as they are paid and deployed to publicize company messaging to their coworkers. Rewards even included invitations to the wedding of American’s Chief Financial Officer, creating the appearance of special treatment and selective enforcement of company policy.

One may wonder who is responsible for the selection of these individuals to serve in special assignment and training positions. What consequences may they eventually face?

ONLINE WORKPLACE HARASSMENT GROWING PROBLEM

There is a lawsuit against United Airlines for failing to intervene in a pilot’s harassment of a flight attendant. American’s failure to put a stop to the bullying that took place against Ms. Chinery may eventually end up opening a Pandora’s box of liability for the carrier as others step forward to share their experiences and American’s lack of support.

In his memorandum, Judge Robreno writes, “Medlin details only a handful of instances of alleged sexual harassment between 2012 and 2015…including…the general use of sexually-oriented profanity.” Judge Robreno further stated that “insults in the workplace do not constitute discrimination ‘merely because the words used have sexual content or connotations.’” Judge Robreno also contends the alleged harassment was not physically threatening despite the litigants having complained to American Airlines about threats of physical harm.

THEY GANGED UP

Jim Brown wasn’t the only one allowed to get away with behavior that conflicted with the American Airlines social media policy:

[From evidence submitted to the court]

Rick Haskins, a male flight attendant, writing regarding coworkers who voted against a union contract proposal, “Those sixteen people should be shot.”

Daniel Datzer another flight attendant wrote, “I do not respect the 51 percent…… And I NEVER will…. Clowns, fools, morons… This will drastically come back to bite them in their uneducated, bilious, petty, small-minded, redneck lazy tired asses…. I will NEVER stop asking how people voted each time I fly and they will be treated accordingly… This is not a joke…. My anger and deep seated frustration WILL have a place to go… Directly at the enemy. I will maintain the level of professionalism that I have for myself…. But make no mistake…. They will know my discontent and pure disgust at their selfish inhumane actions… And it will NOT be cozy for them….I have this fantasy where the 49 percent goes off and forms its own base…… Because frankly, that is the only way the 51% are going to be able to escape what is coming.”

Victor Dunson wrote, “this is war… If you f**k with my friends you f**k with me and I don’t like being f**ked with: (.”

Judge Robreno also contended in his ruling that “Datzer used coarse sexual language” but that it “does not amount to severe or pervasive sexual harassment.” a picture of a “bedazzled vagina,” repeatedly used the word “c**t,” called a coworker a “sow,” referred to coworkers as “harpies and shrews,” and wrote “have any of them LOOKED in a mirror? Tuck your shirt in fat ass… Fix your hair… How bout a tie? A little lipstick?”

AMERICAN DID NOT LIFT A FINGER

Ana Burke-Leon, AA Human Resources

Despite the legal ruling, according to its policies, US Airways / American Airlines failed to follow its own rules and did not investigate multiple complaints brought to Human Resources by many women. Ana Burke-Leon, AA Human Resource Specialist, tasked with examining Chinery and Medlin’s claims states in her deposition, “Discrimination, unlawful harassment and retaliation in the workplace will not be tolerated.”  She stated the policy included derogatory posts, jokes, letters, e-mail or graffiti that denigrate or show hostility toward an individual or group based on but not limited to race, color, religion, gender, or gender identity.

FROM THE DEPOSITION OF AMERICAN’S HUMAN RESOURCE SPECIALIST, ANA BURKE-LEON

If ever there was an instance to back up employee mistrust in human resource departments, the responses given by American’s HR representative to questions from the plaintiff’s attorney would justify their suspicions.

In her deposition, Burke-Leon repeatedly evades the questions brought forth by Chinery and Medlin’s counsel about whether or not the “c-word,” when used by a male employee to refer to a female employee, would be tolerated:

 Q. Do you consider the word, the use of the C-U-N-T to be an epithet, derogatory comment or slur?

A. Yes.

Q. What’s your understanding as to what that word means?

A. It’s a derogatory word used to describe a female.

Q. So if a male employee refers to a female employee as —

A. You can say it. I understand.

Q. I will say the “C” word. If a male employee refers to a female employee as the “C” word, does that fall within these bullet points list of the type of conduct that will not be tolerated?

A. It will depend on the context. It would depend on if it’s directly related or specific name, a person is involved. It will depend on the context.

Q. If a male employee refers to a female employee as the “C” word, do you consider that to be a derogatory comment?

A. It depends on the way it’s stated. It depends on the content. It depends on the content.

Q. Do you consider a male employee referring to a female employee as the “C” word to be a slur?

A. A slur? I don’t know.

Ana Burke-Leon was tasked with interviewing one of the men named in the lawsuit but in her deposition says she did not because on the scheduled day of her flight to meet him, she “went to the wrong gate” and missed the flight. The matter was later looked into by another member of HR. Burke-Leon went on to say, “Daniel stated that his Facebook page was compromised and that he does not believe he made those comments.”

Another senior Human Resource investigator, Dan Cleverly, admitted under oath that he did not-at-all investigate Medlin’s harassment complaints and concerns. She repeatedly emailed him requesting assistance but was ignored.  When questioned, Cleverly’s response in his deposition was “Because it got lost in my shuffle.” That was towards the end of October. I went on vacation, Thanksgiving, Christmas crazy.”  The evidence provided by American Airlines revealed Cleverly’s apparent bias from personal notes to Burke-Leon where he referred to Chinery as “exhibiting a whole new side of crazy” when she attempted to follow up with him about her concerns. His response, when asked why he said that was “Because this was an overwhelming time.”

The harassment claims brought forth against Jim Brown, to this day, have not been investigated by American Airlines. In his testimony, Brown states he has not had any interviews regarding the complaints made against him. At least four women complained to HR about Brown’s harassment. The outcomes of such investigations would determine whether or not there would be disciplinary action, and, according to AA’s policies, if an employee were in violation, it “would not be tolerated.” How is it possible that American Airlines, for years, has ignored women who came forward to complain along with those who provided affidavits testifying that they witnessed harassment by Brown?

The complaints against Brown, Datzer, Allen, and others, date back to 2012 and continue through 2016.  Despite the claims, since that time, three of the men have been promoted to various positions that include lucrative “special projects” committee work and training positions. Flight attendants are required to requalify annually in training to ensure he or she meets the FAA and company requirements to maintain continued employment. Both women have feared retaliation and for their jobs as the men they have accused of harassment have been placed in positions of authority where they potentially can pass or fail them.

AN APPEAL MAY BE FORTHCOMING

“American offered me a monetary settlement, but this has never been about money. It’s about employees suffering when policies created to protect them are ignored or selectively enforced by the company. These colleagues should be held to the same accountability that everyone else is held to. People should never be rewarded for engaging in workplace bullying and harassment” says Chinery.

The Democrats Abandon Catholics

If you value religious education or life’s sanctity, you’re not welcome in the party.

Last Saturday’s feast of St. Patrick, the patron saint of our cathedral and archdiocese, reminded me of Archbishop John Hughes. As the first archbishop of New York (1842-64), “Dagger John” displayed dramatic reverence for the dignity of Irish immigrants. Thousands arrived daily in New York—penniless, starving and sometimes ill—only to be met with hostility, bigotry and injustice.

An immigrant himself, Hughes prophetically and vigorously defended their dignity. Because the schools at the time were hostile to these immigrants, he initiated Catholic schools to provide children with a good education sensitive to their religion and to prepare them as responsible, patriotic citizens. The schools worked. Many remain open to this day, their mission unchanged.

The second event was the recent funeral of a great African-American woman, Dolores Grier. A convert to Catholicism, she was named vice chancellor of the archdiocese three decades ago by Cardinal John O’Connor; she was the first layperson and first woman to hold the prestigious position. Grier was passionate about civil rights, especially the right to life of babies in the womb. She never missed an opportunity to defend, lovingly but forcefully, their right to life.

Grier attributed her pro-life sensitivity to the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who preached that abortion was an act of genocide against minorities. No wonder, she often observed, abortuaries were clustered in poor black and brown neighborhoods. The statistics today confirm her observation: In 2013 there were more black babies aborted in New York City (29,007) than were born here (24,758), according to a report from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The values Archbishop Hughes and Dolores Grier cherished—the dignity and sanctity of human life, the importance of Catholic schools, the defense of a baby’s civil rights—were, and still are, widely embraced by Catholics. This often led Catholics to become loyal Democrats. I remember my own grandmother whispering to me, “We Catholics don’t trust those Republicans.”

Such is no longer the case, a cause of sadness to many Catholics, me included. The two causes so vigorously promoted by Hughes and Grier—the needs of poor and middle-class children in Catholic schools, and the right to life of the baby in the womb—largely have been rejected by the party of our youth. An esteemed pro-life Democrat in Illinois, Rep. Dan Lipinski, effectively was blacklisted by his own party. Last year, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez insisted that pro-life candidates have no place in the modern Democratic Party.

It is particularly chilly for us here in the state Hughes and Grier proudly called their earthly home. In recent years, some Democrats in the New York state Assembly repeatedly blocked education tax credit legislation, which would have helped middle-class and low-income families make the choice to select Catholic or other nonpublic schools for their children. Opposing the bill reduces the ability of fine Catholic schools across the state to continue their mission of serving the poor, many of them immigrants.

More sobering, what is already the most radical abortion license in the country may soon be even more morbidly expanded. For instance, under the proposed Reproductive Health Act, doctors would not be required to care for a baby who survives an abortion. The newborn simply would be allowed to die without any legal implications. And abortions would be legal up to the moment of birth.

I’m a pastor, not a politician, and I’ve certainly had spats and disappointments with politicians from both of America’s leading parties. But it saddens me, and weakens the democracy millions of Americans cherish, when the party that once embraced Catholics now slams the door on us.

To Archbishop Hughes, Dolores Grier, and Grandma Dolan, I’m sorry to have to write this. But not as sad as you are to know it is true.

Cardinal Dolan is archbishop of New York.

Appeared in the March 22, 2018, print edition of The Wall Street Journal and can be found here.

American Airlines Flight Attendants Will Appeal Ruling On Facebook Sexual Harassment

The Melissa Chinery and Laura Medlin cases against American Airlines, cases currently being litigated by my firm, the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C., have been featured in an article entitled “American Airlines Flight Attendants Will Appeal Ruling On Facebook Sexual Harassment,” in Forbes b published on September 12, 2018, which can be found here.

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Two flight attendants who sued American Airlines, alleging that they were sexually harassed by male co-workers in Facebook postings, say they will appeal after a Philadelphia judge dismissed their cases.

Faye Riva Cohen, the Philadelphia attorney who represents flight attendants Melissa Chinery and Laura Medlin, said Tuesday that she will file in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in about a week.

“American Airlines is [generally] proactive in disciplining employees who do things that negatively impact the airline, but is dragging its heels in trying to enforce social media [policy] for their employees,” Cohen said.

“I feel [American] has no interest in social media policy,” Cohen said. “They just hang it out there.”

Cohen said the court did not adequately consider the new norms of the modern-day workplace, where social media has replaced lunchrooms and water coolers as sites where workers congregate, but bullying cannot be addressed face-to-face. “People are being bullied [and] there should be repercussions when that occurs,” she said, noting that flight attendants, who work with varying sets of co-workers, are particularly vulnerable.

The two flight attendants filed their case in March 2017 in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.  At the time, Chinery was based in Philadelphia while Laura Medlin was based in Charlotte. Chinery has since transferred to the Phoenix base. Their cases were consolidated.

The insults were posted within a Facebook group, whose membership is limited to American flight attendants, by a group of four to five Philadelphia-based male flight attendants.

Medlin said she was harassed with insulting terms including “sow,” while Chinery said she was referred to as “flipper,” a synonym for prostitute. Both women said the harassment was related to union activities in support of leaders whom their harassers opposed.

U.S. District Court Judge Eduardo Robreno dismissed the cases on August 27, when he granted American’s motions for summary judgement.

In Chinery’s case, Robreno ruled, “Looking at all of the complained of behavior objectively, even that which does not appear connected to gender and instead appears to be related to Chinery’s stance on union issues, the behavior does not amount to severe or pervasive sexual harassment.”

He cited behavior by the four men including posting a photograph of a broken record; referring to Chinery as “flipper,” saying the defendant “did not present a good appearance to passengers [and] allegedly posting a picture of a bedazzled vagina.”

“The court concludes that the complained-of conduct was not so objectively severe or pervasive that it would unreasonably interfere with an employee’s work performance,” wrote Robreno. He was nominated for his post in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush.

Regarding Medlin’s case, Robreno wrote that she alleged sexual harassment on Facebook, between 2012 and 2015, including calling her a “sow” and a “mean girl.”

“While there are a number of serious questions that are raised by Medlin’s claims, including whether the alleged harassment over Facebook was due to her sex rather than her opinions regarding labor unions and whether it actually occurred in a work environment, it is clear that the alleged instances of harassment were not adequately severe or pervasive to establish American’s liability,” Robreno ruled.

American spokesman Matt Miller said the carrier, “is proud to foster a work environment in which all team members are respected.

“When American receives reports of alleged harassment in the workplace, those complaints are investigated and appropriate action is taken,” Miller said.

Ohio town must pay back millions of fines collected from speed cameras, court rules

I have been writing in opposition to traffic cameras for a few years now (you can find all of my articles and posts on traffic cameras here).  They are consistently controversial and violative of basic rights as described in the article below.

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A small Ohio town that lived by the red light camera could soon die by it, after a federal court ruled the speed trap has to pay back more than $3 million in automated speeding tickets.

The case of New Miami, population 2,321, highlights the controversy behind the tickets, which make stoplight-running motorists see red, but help keep the budgets of cities and towns in the black. New Miami will almost certainly go bankrupt if the Supreme Court doesn’t reverse a lower court’s ruling and spare it from refunding tens of thousands of tickets at $180 apiece plus interest.

The case of New Miami is seen by many drivers across the country – including numerous lawmakers and lawyers – as the epitome of municipalities abusing their power by setting up speed traps and red light cameras in an attempt, not to make roadways safer, but to line their coffers.

“As with most issues there are elements of truth on both sides,” Bill Seitz, a Republican state representative from Ohio, told Fox News. “But many of these jurisdictions are using these tickets as revenue enhancements that ticket people for only minor infractions.”

Seitz is currently working to push a bill through the Ohio statehouse that would require cities to file all traffic camera cases in municipal court and would reduce state funding to cities by the same amount cities collect in traffic camera revenue.

The Ohio representative, who himself was caught on camera rolling through a red light in Columbus, added that in 2006 and 2014 lawmakers approved restrictions on photo enforcement cameras and that limits or bands on the devices enjoy wide support in cities like Cincinnati and Cleveland.

The current animosity directed at the cameras marks a shift in public sentiment toward the cameras.

While it is tough to pinpoint the national pulse as most studies are conducted at a state and regional level, but it appears that there are a growing number of areas who are starting to question whether the speed camera programs are effective or even constitutional.

Seven states are currently considering legislation to prohibit red light and speed camera use amid concerns that they are ripe for abuse and IIHS study found that the number of red light cameras in the U.S. dropped to 467 in 2015 from its peak of 553 in 2012.

“It’s really a money making venture,” Israel Klein, a lawyer in New York City, told Fox News. “They’re raking in the dollars and it’s an extreme abuse of power.”

Klein earlier this year filed a class action lawsuit against the city that argues that speed camera tickets are invalid and violate New York state law as the city failed to file all of the required paperwork with the court before allowing a private contractor to drop the photo ticket in the mail. New York City’s 2018 budget expects to haul in $119 million in photo enforcement fines.

“City officials don’t care about the law as long as they’re making money,” Klein added.

Proponents of the cameras, however, argue that they significantly lower the number of accidents on the road as both speeding and going through red lights are two of the biggest causes of car crashes in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The most recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that nearly 1,300 lives were saved through 2014 in 79 large U.S. cities that installed red light cameras and, in a study of one county in Maryland, radar cameras installed on local roads reduced fatal or incapacitating injuries by 39 percent.

“Red light running is one of the biggest factors in crashes,” Russ Rader, a spokesman for the IIHS, told Fox News. “But [these crashes] are sharply reduced when cities use red light cameras.”

But a slew of recent corruption cases across the country involving local government officials and companies selling the cameras is not helping the image of them as moneymakers for municipalities.

In Chicago, camera vendor Redflex won in 2003 a $120 million contract to install 384 cameras and collected more than $400 million in traffic fines. It was eventually revealed that Redflex bribed Chicago City hall manager John Bills with $2,000 for every camera installed as well as giving him vacations, a condominium in Arizona and Mercedes among other favors.

Bills was eventually sentenced to 10 years in federal prison in a corruption scandal that rocked the city, while two Redflex higher-ups were sent to jail and the company was forced to pay $20 million to the city to settle a lawsuit.

Redflex did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

In Ohio, New Miami will have to wait to see if the state’s Supreme Court decides to take a look at their plea – something it only does with roughly seven percent of cases filed annually. Engel, the plaintiff’s lawyer, says he believes that going to the state’s highest court is just another move by the village to delay making their payments.

“The village is well aware that the chances of the Supreme Court deciding to hear this issue is slim. So why are they pursuing this Hail Mary?” Engel told the Journal-News. “This is another stalling tactic to further delay having to pay back the money taken from motorists in an unconstitutional scheme.”

By Andrew O’Reilly and originally published on Fox News on March 14, 2018 and can be found here.

Superior Court Ruling Gives Hope to Custody-Seeking Grandparents

Pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. Section 5324, grandparents and great-grandparents, if they meet the statutory criteria, may be awarded legal and physical custody of their grandchild(ren) (or great-grandchildren). Typically, grandparents assert their potential custodial rights in opposition to the rights of the parents of the children. In some situations, however, more than one set of grandparents may seek to exercise their custodial rights at the same time. How is that conflict resolved? The recent Pennsylvania Superior Court case of G.A.P. v. J.M.W. v. S.J. and R.J., 2018 Pa.Super. 229 sheds some light on how such a matter could be handled.

In G.A.P., the father of the child has a history of substance abuse and also a criminal history, and was alleged to have committed sexual abuse against the child. Similarly, the mother of the child also has a history of substance abuse. The child has lived, from time to time, with the maternal great-grandparents over the course of his entire life, and has lived continuously with them since 2015.

In the summer of 2016 the great-grandparents filed for custody of the child on the basis that he had been living with them continuously since October 2015 and asserted that he was unsafe when in the custody of the father. The trial court, on an emergency basis, awarded the great-grandparents sole physical custody of the child and suspended the father’s partial physical custody, and an agreement was reached with the mother awarding her supervised physical custody of the child. At the end of 2016 the trial court awarded the great-grandparents and the father shared legal custody, the great-grandparents primary physical custody, and the father supervised physical custody. The mother was not awarded anything as she failed to appear for the hearing.

In the spring of 2017 the great-grandparents filed a petition for special relief requesting the father be drug tested and have his custody modified to supervised visits only, on the basis that he allegedly had relapsed into drug use. As a result, the trial court suspended the father’s unsupervised partial physical custody and replaced it with supervised physical custody.

Not long after the father’s custody was reduced, the paternal grandparents filed a petition to Intervene and requested physical custody of the child. The grandparents asserted that their petition was filed pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S.A. Section 5324(3)(iii)(B) which permits grandparents to file for custody of their grandchildren if “the child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity.”

In response, the great-grandparents filed preliminary objections against the grandparents’ petition to Intervene, asserting that the grandparents did not have standing as, allegedly, the child was not “currently” at substantial risk. The trial court agreed and dismissed the grandparents’ petition to Intervene for lack of standing, leading them to file an appeal to Pennsylvania Superior Court.

During the litigation of the petition to Intervene, the great-grandparents conceded that the grandparents had a relationship with the child that began with the consent of a parent, and were willing to assume parental responsibility over the child. In other words, the great-grandparents admitted that the grandparents essentially met the other requirements of Section 5324 except, in their view, the requirement that the child be currently substantially at risk.

The grandparents argued that the risk to the child, by the plain language of the statute cited above, is due to “parental abuse” specifically and, therefore, the claim that the great-grandparents are not a source of risk is irrelevant. Furthermore, the “grandparents also argued that the purpose of the statute is to grant grandparents standing in custody matters, not ‘to create a situation where grandparents are essentially in a race to file to receive standing’ because the grandparent who files first is the only one able to obtain standing in a custody matter.”

The Superior Court agreed that Section 5324 confers standing upon grandparents when the child is substantially at risk “due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity.” In its view, these words are clear and unambiguous and make no exception for a child’s potential custodial situation at a given time. In the court’s words “the plain language of the statute confers standing to grandparents when a child is substantially at risk due to ongoing parental behaviors.”

Upon review of the trial court record, Superior Court noted that the conditions required by Section 5325—including the risk factors—were present to grant the great-grandparents standing. Superior Court determined that there was nothing to suggest that the risk created by the parents had changed or somehow subsided. Significantly, the court observed, as the parental rights of father and mother have not been terminated or relinquished, either or both father and mother could seek (additional) custody of the child at any time. As a result, the ongoing risk from the parents is still ongoing.

Finally, it is in Superior Court’s opinion that the General Assembly did not intend, by its adoption of the specific language in the statute, to create a so-called race-to-the-courthouse standard by which the (great) grandparent who files first gets awarded custody at the expense of the others. Instead, the Superior Court reasoned, the court should have the opportunity to consider all possible or viable options in order to decide how to allot custodial rights according to the best interests of the child at issue. As a result, Superior Court reversed the trial court’s sustaining of the great-grandparents’ preliminary objections and remanded the case back to the trial court.

This case should provide practitioners the justification, and potential custodial grandparents hope, that they can pursue potential custodial rights over their grandchildren even if others who are in a similar state of life or situation (e.g., another set of grandparents) seemingly have done so already.

Originally published in The Legal Intelligencer on October 2, 2018 and can be found here.

The Ignoble Lie

Every now and again I come across a fantastic article the warrants posting here; I recently came across one in First Things which, I thought, was pretty insightful. Be edified.

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During one of the more infamous moments in Plato’s Republic, Socrates suggests that the ideal city needs a founding myth—what he calls “a noble lie”—to ensure its success. The myth has two parts. The first relates that every person in the city comes from the same mother, and thus encourages belief in a common origin and kinship of all the citizens who live in the city. The second relates that every person belongs by birth to a particular class based upon his or her talents and abilities, indicated by a metal gilded upon each soul at birth: gold for the ruling class; silver for ministers, soldiers, and high-ranking servants; bronze and iron for the workers.

Socrates argues that both parts of the myth must be believed by all citizens for the city to succeed. The myth at once seeks to unite and to differentiate, to explain what is common and distinct, to foster civic patriotism amid significant difference. The first part encourages civic commitment, shared sacrifice, and belief in a common good. The second justifies the existence of inequality as a permanent feature of ­human society.

Socrates is reluctant even to speak the myth aloud, recognizing how repulsive it is likely to sound to his hearers. More, he admits that it will require great acts of persuasion—likely over generations—before it is accepted by denizens of the city, and even then, it is likely not to be persuasive to the ruling class. If anyone is likely to accept the myth, he suggests, it is the uneducated working class.

When I present the noble lie to students in my classes, it rankles—as Socrates predicted it would. They dislike the idea that the just polity must be based upon a deception. But what irritates them even more is the suggestion that the just city must be based upon inequality. As good liberal democratic citizens, they intensely dislike the suggestion that inequality might be perpetuated as a matter of birthright, and they identify with the injustice done to the underclass. Over twenty years teaching at Princeton, Georgetown, and Notre Dame, I can’t recall a single student who regards the myth as anything but troubling. Most find it repugnant.

When pressed on the question of why it will prove more difficult to persuade the ruling class of the truth of the noble lie, most students believe that the ruling class’s superior education and intelligence make them more resistant to propaganda, while the simple working people are likely to succumb to deception because they don’t adequately understand their own interests. My students implicitly side with Marx in believing that the less educated are likely to adopt “false consciousness.”

Plato intends us to understand the myth ­differently. Unlike Marx, he did not believe that the members of the lower class would be unlikely to know their own interests. The underclass is likely to accept the myth because they realize it works to their advantage. Its members are keenly aware of the fact of inequality. That part of the “lie” hardly seems false to them. What is novel, and what works to their advantage, is the idea that inequalities exist for the benefit of the underclass as well as the rulers. That is, members with noble metals in their souls are to undertake their work for the benefit of everyone, including those whose souls are marked by base metals. By contrast, members of the ruling class are likely to disbelieve the myth out of self-interest. They balk at the claim that every person, regardless of rank, belongs to the same family. They do not want the advantages that might solely benefit their class to be employed for the benefit of the whole.

Only if each group accepts each part of the “lie,” as Socrates explains, is a kind of social contract achieved. Elites and commoners both accept the part of the myth that does not appeal to them for the sake of the part that does. Elites are distinguished in a society that justifies inequality; commoners are best off in a society that compels service of elites for the whole. Instead of acting as warring parties, both sides work for the good of all.

Such a compact is difficult to achieve. Much of the rest of The Republic is taken up with the question of how the ruling class can be persuaded, or even compelled, to throw in their lot with the rest of the city, rather than simply dominating or neglecting the others. Given the brute fact of inequality, Plato sees the great challenge of politics to be the task of persuading the advantaged to see themselves as part of the whole.

Compare Socrates’s expected response of the ruling class to this “noble lie” to the typical reaction of students at elite universities. Today’s elite students tend to focus on the myth’s claims about perpetual and generational inequality as the most objectionable part of the myth. The claim of common kinship seems unproblematic and even uninteresting. What explains the apparent reversal of scandal and resistance among the ruling class in our age?

Elite college campuses are hotbeds of activism against inequality, especially as it touches on race, gender, disability, and sexual orientation. In recent years, students and faculty from UC Berkeley to Yale to Reed College have protested instances of perceived bias, but few incidents have been quite so remarkable as the protests that greeted the social scientist Charles Murray at Middlebury College on March 2, 2017. Before speaking a word, Murray was greeted with twenty minutes of unbroken denunciatory chants by hundreds of students in the audience. In order to hold the planned discussion, he and his host, professor Allison Stanger, had to leave the lecture hall for a private studio. Students followed them and beat on the walls and windows of the room. As they left that secure space, the crowd buffeted and grabbed at Murray and Stanger, leaving Stanger with a neck injury and a concussion.

Murray had been invited to discuss his book Coming Apart, a study of the growing inequality between rich and poor white Americans between 1960 and 2010. Murray’s book focuses on two phenom­ena. First, he points to the way Americans have been sorted into separate geographic enclaves according to wealth, class, and education. Second, he points to the way poor and uneducated Americans suffer unprecedentedly high rates of social pathology, including divorce, out-of-wedlock childbirth, crime, drug addiction, ­unemployment, bankruptcy, isolation, and anomie.

The students who prevented Murray from speaking mostly come from, and will settle in, what Murray calls the “HPY” (Harvard, Princeton, Yale) bubble, a place of remarkable ideological, economic, and social homogeneity. Admission and graduation from an institution like Middlebury is the passport into the HPY bubble. This is no mean feat. According to U.S. News and World Report, Middlebury College is tied for sixth with Pomona College, behind Williams, Amherst, Bowdoin, Swarthmore, and Wellesley, in the rankings for best liberal arts colleges in America. It is among the most selective schools in America, accepting only 17 percent of applicants in 2017. Students have an average SAT score of 1450 out of 1600, along with a 3.95 high school GPA. Its cost for tuition plus room and board tops $64,000.

One might have thought that students at such a school would be keenly interested in hearing a lecture by someone who would discuss the evidence, basis, and implications of economic and class divergences in America today. Indeed, one might suspect that if the students were upset about inequality, they would have been inspired by Murray to direct the onus of their discontent against Middlebury College itself as a perpetrator of class division or even against themselves as willing participants in that perpetuation. At the very least, one might have thought that they would be interested in listening to an analysis of the role educational institutions play in creating and maintaining inequality. Instead, they shouted down the man who was going to speak with them about the role they play in perpetuating inequality—in the name of equality itself.

Of course, it wasn’t the subject of Murray’s lecture that was being protested, but the fact that he had discussed statistical differences in IQ among different races in his 1994 book, The Bell Curve. The main point of that book, however, was concern that social sorting would exacerbate class differentiation in America—just the kind of sorting that elite schools like Middlebury help to advance. The violent protests against Murray had the convenient effect of preventing any exploration of the pervasive class divide in America today, and leaving the elite students and ­faculty of Middlebury self-satisfied in their demonstrative support for equality.

Like so many similar demonstrations against inequality at elite college campuses, the protest against Murray was an echo of resistance of the ruling class to the noble lie. The ruling class denies that they really are a self-perpetuating elite that has not only inherited certain advantages but also seeks to pass them on. To mask this fact, they describe themselves as the vanguard of equality, in effect denying the very fact of their elevated status and the deleterious consequences of their perpetuation of a class divide that has left their less fortunate countrymen in a dire and perilous condition. Indeed, one is tempted to conclude that their insistent defense of equality is a way of freeing themselves from any real duties to the lower classes that are increasingly out of geographical sight and mind. Because they repudiate inequality, they need not consciously consider themselves to be a ruling class. Denying that they are deeply self-interested in maintaining their elite position, they easily assume that they believe in common kinship—so long as their position is unthreatened. The part of the “noble lie” that once would have horrified the elites—the claim of common kinship—is irrelevant; instead, they resist the inegalitarian part of the myth that would then, as now, have seemed self-evident to the elites as well as the underclass. Today’s underclass is as likely to recognize its unequal position as Plato’s. It is elites that seem most prone to the condition of “false consciousness.”

The dominion of this new elite has been long anticipated, discussed most cogently by social critics such as Michael Young, C. Wright Mills, and Christopher Lasch. Among the ablest chroniclers of the new elite has been New York Times columnist David Brooks, who in April of 2001 published “The Organization Kid,” an essay describing the replacement of America’s WASP aristocracy by a “­meritocracy.” After spending several weeks with students on Princeton’s campus, Brooks concluded that there had been certain gains and decided losses resulting from this regime change. One loss he bemoaned was abandonment of “noblesse oblige,” or an encouragement of concern among the ruling class for those less fortunate as a consequence of the mere luck of birth and genealogy. Brooks contrasted this with the older WASP ideal based on civic, military, and Protestant values: “The Princeton of that day aimed to take privileged men from their prominent families and toughen them up, teach them a sense of social obligation, based on the code of the gentleman and noblesse oblige. In short, it aimed to instill in them a sense of chivalry.”

Noblesse oblige—“obligations of the nobility”—provided some measure of legitimacy to the older aristocratic order. It allowed the ruling class to claim that their actions weren’t merely self-serving, but instead supported the whole community, especially the poor and powerless. The image of the knight-errant coming to the rescue of the damsel in distress was a romantic and dramatic representation of a much broader ethic, that of the strong protecting and standing for the weak. The ancien régime—premised upon the rule of a hereditary aristocracy that ruled for the good of the whole polity—was overthrown because most people ceased to believe its conceit. Its flattering self-portrait of a paternalistic and caring overclass was increasingly viewed as a self-serving rationalization and a form of societal self-deception in the service of status maintenance. Barbara ­Tuchman described the crisis of legitimacy of the chivalric code in her book A Distant Mirror:

The ideal was a vision of order maintained by the warrior class and formulated in the image of the Round Table, nature’s perfect shape. King Arthur’s knights adventured for the right against dragons, enchanters, and wicked men, establishing order in a wild world. So their living counterparts were supposed, in theory, to serve as defenders of the Faith, upholders of justice, champions of the oppressed. In practice, they were themselves the oppressors, and by the 14th century the violence and lawlessness of men of the sword had become a major agency of disorder. When the gap between ideal and real becomes too wide, the system breaks down. Legend and story have always reflected this; in the Arthurian romances the Round Table is shattered from within.

We may be quick to agree that there was a gap between the stated ethic of noblesse oblige and the ­actual actions of the nobility of the ancien régimeBut, much like those who took for granted the naturalness of political arrangements during the medieval ages, today’s elites seldom subject their meritocratic justifications of their status and position to the same skepticism.

While elites may suffer self-inflicted blindness to the nature of their position, the rest of society clearly sees what they are doing. The uprising among the working classes across the developed West arises from a perception of illegitimacy—of a gap between claims of the ruling class and reality as experienced by those who are ruled. It is no coincidence that these rebellions come from the socialist left and authoritarian right, two positions that now share opposition to state capitalism, a managerial ruling class, the financialization of the economy, and globalization. These populist rebellions are a challenge to the liberal order itself.

Our ruling class is more blinkered than that of the ancien régime. Unlike the aristocrats of old, they insist that there are only egalitarians at their exclusive institutions. They loudly proclaim their virtue and redouble their commitment to diversity and inclusion. They cast bigoted rednecks as the great impediment to perfect equality—not the elite institutions from which they benefit. The institutions responsible for winnowing the social and economic winners from the losers are largely immune from questioning, and busy themselves with extensive public displays of their unceasing commitment to equality. Meritocratic ideology disguises the ruling class’s own role in perpetuating inequality from itself, and even fosters a broader social ecology in which those who are not among the ruling class suffer an array of social and economic pathologies that are increasingly the defining feature of ­America’s underclass. Facing up to reality would require hard questions about the agenda underlying commitments to “diversity and inclusion.” Our ­stated commitment to “critical thinking” demands no less, but such questions are likely to be put down—at times violently—on contemporary campuses.

Campaigns for equality that focus on the inclusion of identity groups rather than examinations of the class divide permit an extraordinary lack of curiosity about complicity in a system that secures elite status across generations. Concern for diversity and inclusion on the basis of “ascriptive” features—race, gender, disability, or sexual orientation—allows the ruling class to overlook class while focusing on unchosen forms of identity. Diversity and inclusion fit neatly into the meritocratic structure, leaving the structure of the new aristocratic order firmly in place.

This helps explain the strange and often hysterical insistence upon equality emanating from our nation’s most elite and exclusive institutions. The most absurd recent instance was Harvard University’s official effort to eliminate social clubs due to their role in “enacting forms of privilege and exclusion at odds with our deepest values,” in the words of its president. Harvard’s opposition to exclusion sits comfortably with its admissions rate of 5 percent (2,056 out of 40,000 applicants in 2017). The denial of privilege and exclusion seems to increase in proportion to an institution’s exclusivity.

Highly touted commitments to equity, inclusion, and diversity do not only cloak institutional elitism. They also imply that anyone who is not included deserves his lower status. If elites largely regard their social status, wealth, and position as the result of their own efforts and work (and certainly not of birth or inheritance), then those who remain in the lower classes have, by the same logic, chosen to remain in such a condition. This scornful view is shared by prominent voices on the right and left. For instance, James Stimson—the Raymond Dawson Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina—recently told the New York Times:

When we observe the behavior of those who live in distressed areas, we are not observing the effect of economic decline on the working class, we are observing a highly selected group of people who faced economic adversity and choose to stay at home and accept it when others sought and found opportunity elsewhere. . . . Those who are fearful, conservative, in the social sense, and lack ambition stay and accept decline.

In other words, it’s their own fault. They deserve to lose, just as Harvard’s meritocrats deserve to win.

That the ruling class today is more prone to denounce inequality from its manicured campuses than promote among its own denizens belief in a common civic life is not a sign of its greater enlightenment and progress, but a sign of a new aristocracy that is unconscious of its own position and its concomitant responsibilities. They are deluded by an updated “noble” lie.

From the vantage of nearly 2,500 years, Plato’s noble lie doesn’t appear to be a falsehood after all. For a society to function, two seemingly contradictory beliefs must be simultaneously held: We are radically different and radically alike. We are extensively differentiated yet bound together. We are called to sometimes radically unequal tasks, but those tasks are part of an effort to benefit the whole. Plato thought the “fact of difference” would be easy for people to acknowledge, since it is so evident to our senses, if not always easy for those in a position of lower status to accept. The challenge was how to achieve belief in a common origin and shared kinship. The Republic of Plato was one effort to answer that challenge, if a fairly absurd and implausible one (as Socrates readily admitted). We have two main answers on the table today.

For as long as our nation has been in existence, confused and diverging streams have fed into the American creed. The first of these was political liberalism. It puts a stress upon individual rights and liberty, promising that if we commit to a common project of building a liberal society, our distinct and often irreconcilable differences will be protected. Liberalism affirms political unity as a means to ­securing our private differences.

Christianity has been the other stream. It approaches the question from the opposite perspective, understanding our differences to serve a deeper unity. This is the resounding message of St. Paul in chapters 12–13 of 1 Corinthians. There, Paul calls upon the squabbling Christians of Corinth to understand that their gifts are not for the glory of any particular person or class of people, but for the body as a whole. John Winthrop echoed this teaching in his seldom-read, oft-misquoted sermon aboard the Arbella, “A Model of Christian Charity.” Winthrop begins his speech with the observation that people have in all times and places been born or placed into low and high stations; the poor are always with us, as Christ observed. But this differentiation was not permitted and ordained for the purpose of the degradation of the former and glory of the latter, but for the greater glory of God, that all might know that they have need of each other and a responsibility to share particular gifts for the sake of the common. Differences of talent and circumstance exist to promote a deeper unity.

So long as liberalism was not fully itself—so long as liberalism was corrected and even governed by Christianity—a working social contract was possible. For Christianity, difference is ordered toward unity. For liberalism, unity is valued insofar as it promotes difference. The American experiment blended and confused these two understandings, but just enough to make it a going concern. The balance was always imperfect, leaving out too many, always ­unstably oscillating between quasi-theological evocation of unity and deracinated individualism. But it seemed viable for nearly 250 years. The recent steep decline of religious faith and Christian moral norms is regarded by many as marking the triumph of liberalism, and so, in a sense, it is. Today our unity is understood almost entirely in the light of our differences. We come together—to celebrate diversity. And today, the celebration of diversity ends up serving as a mask for power and inequality.

In this settlement, the language of rights prevails. But as Simone Weil noted decades ago, the language of rights ultimately cannot build, or even sustain, a common life:

If you say to someone who has ears to hear: ‘What you are doing to me is not just’, you touch and awaken at its source the spirit of attention and love. But it is not the same with words like ‘I have the right . . .’ or ‘you have no right to . . .’ They invoke a latent war and awaken the spirit of contention. To place the notion of rights at the centre of social conflicts is to inhibit any possible impulse of charity of both sides.

Weil predicted what we now experience. After more than two centuries, we can no longer assert the compatibility of Christianity and liberalism. Liberalism is ascendant, but its victory will be pyrrhic. A ­society solely premised upon a shared belief in individual differentiation will end in a war of all against all. The state of nature lies not in an imagined past; it is plainly visible in a near and all too real future.

The new aristocrats believe we have transcended the need for Christianity, which they regard as a myth no less mendacious than Plato’s noble lie. They believe that by dispelling the old myths, they can become the vanguard of an ever more equal society. They blind themselves to the fact that this claim is a form of status maintenance, allowing denial of a deeper commonality with those they regard as benighted and backward. Elites denounce the “populists” while denying that they have fomented a class war. They deplore the obnoxiousness of Donald Trump, perfectly obtuse of their complicity in his ascent.

We are in uncharted territory. Liberalism coexisted with Christianity for its entire history, with Christianity moderating the harder edges of the regnant political philosophy, supporting forms and practices that demanded from elites the recognition of their elevated status, and hence, corresponding responsibilities and duties to those less fortunate. The thoroughgoing disdain and dismissiveness of today’s elites toward the working class is a reflection of our newfound “enlightenment,” just as is the belief among the lower class that only a strong and equally disdainful leader can constrain the elites. Liberalism has achieved its goal of emptying the public square of the old gods, leaving it a harsh space of contestation among unequals who no longer see any commonality. Whether that square can be filled again with newly rendered stories of old telling us of a common origin and destination, or whether it must simply be dominated by whoever proves the strongest, is the test of our age.

By Patrick J. Deneen and published in First Things in April 2018 (see here).

NBI Seminar: The Rights of Grandparents and Other Relatives

As I have posted recently (see here), I  had the great opportunity to lead (perhaps “teach”) a continuing legal education seminar hosted by the National Business Institute (a.k.a. NBI, see here).  The subject was “Family Law From A to Z” and I had opportunity to speak on two main topics in particular: Custody and Ethics.  I was joined by four other capable attorneys who each had their own topics to present.

Although NBI published the materials, I retain the ownership of the portions I wrote, which I will post here in this blog.

Copied below are the materials I wrote for the section entitled “The Rights of Grandparents and Other Relatives.”

Thanks!

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Grandparents’ (and other relatives) rights to have custody of children is governed by 23 Pa.C.S.A. §5324 which states as follows:

The following individuals may file an action under this chapter for any form of physical custody or legal custody:

(1) A parent of the child.

(2) A person who stands in loco parentis to the child.

(3) A grandparent of the child who is not in loco parentis to the child:

(i) whose relationship with the child began either with the consent of a parent of

the child or under a court order;

(ii) who assumes or is willing to assume responsibility for the child; and

(iii) when one of the following conditions is met:

(A) the child has been determined to be a dependent child under 42 Pa.C.

S.Ch. 63 (relating to juvenile matters);

(B) the child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or

alcohol abuse or incapacity; or

(C) the child has, for a period of at least 12 consecutive months, resided

with the grandparent, excluding brief temporary absences of the child from

the home, and is removed from the home by the parents, in which case the

action must be filed within six months after the removal of the child from

the home.

 

23 Pa.C.S.A. §5325 supplements §5324 and states the following:

In addition to situations set forth in §5324 (relating to standing for any form of physical custody or legal custody), grandparents and great-grandparents may file an action under this chapter for partial physical custody or supervised physical custody in the following situations:

(1) where the parent of the child is deceased, a parent or grandparent of the deceased parent may file an action under this section;

(2) [Unconstitutional]

(3) when the child has, for a period of at least 12 consecutive months, resided with the grandparent or great-grandparent, excluding brief temporary absences of the child from the home, and is removed from the home by the parents, an action must be filed within six months after he removal of the child from the home.

Failure to secure standing serves to bar grandparents from pursing the custody of the child-at-issue.  If they do have standing, grandparents may file for custody like a parent can, however, when litigating against a parent, the scales are always tipped heavily toward the biological parent and away from the grandparent.  Of course, the best interests of the child are always paramount.  When two parents are litigating against one another, the burden of proof is shared equally, however when the case is between a biological parent and a third party (e.g.: a grandparent), the burden of proof is not equally balanced.  In this case, the biological parent has a prima facie right to custody which can only be forfeited only if “convincing reasons” appear that the best interests of the child are better met by the third party.

Resources:

  • 23 Pa.C.S.A. §5324
  • 23 Pa.C.S.A. §5325
  • Jordan v. Jackson, 876 A.2d 443 (Pa.Super.2005)
  • K.B. v. C.B.F., 833 A.2d 767 (Pa.Super.2003)

How Christianity Led to the Rise of Modern Science

Every now and again I come across a fantastic article the warrants posting here; I recently came across one in Equip which, I thought, was pretty insightful. Be edified.

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SYNOPSIS 

A central tenet of the new atheism is that Christianity and reason are antithetical, and that throughout history Christians have held back progress in science. Atheist historian Dr. Richard Carrier has promoted similar views in his contributions to essay collections such as The Christian Delusion and Christianity Is Not Great. He suggests that, but for the rise of Christianity, the ancient Greeks would have enjoyed a scientific revolution so that the “Dark Ages” never would have happened. However, the truth is very different. The science of the ancient Greek pagans was intended to reinforce their ethical and philosophical positions, rather than to be an objective study of nature. Admittedly, when Christians came to develop their own science in the Middle Ages, they were not being objective either. For them, science was the study of God’s creation. But the metaphysical assumptions of Christianity, unlike those of the Greeks or even Muslims, turned out to be extremely conducive to uncovering true knowledge about nature. They weren’t trying to, but it was Christians who laid the foundations for modern science.


It’s hard to imagine what life was like before the rise of modern science. For example, there were no computers, few effective medicines, and only the rich could afford colorful clothes because there were no artificial dyes. So central is science to our lives that the charge Christianity tried to hold back its advance is particularly damaging. It is particularly unfair as well. As historians have now realized, the evidence that the Christian faith actually had a positive influence on science is becoming ever stronger.

In this article, I’ll explain how it was medieval Christians rather than ancient Greeks who provided the philosophical framework in which modern science could arise. I’ll be paying special attention to the work of the atheist historian Richard Carrier, in particular the assertions he makes in two essays in anti-Christian collections edited by John Loftus.1Carrier is one of the few scholars working today who still supports the “conflict thesis,” so it is important to understand why he reaches conclusions contrary to the vast majority of historians of science.

The common perception of a historical conflict between science and Christianity remains strong. That hasn’t stopped almost all serious scholars from queuing up to condemn it. For example, historians David Lindberg and Ron Numbers have stated unequivocally that the popular view is wrong. But as Lindberg and Numbers ruefully admit, “Despite a developing consensus among scholars that science and Christianity have not been at war, the notion of conflict refused to die.”2 It is also becoming increasingly clear that much of the evidence cited to support the conflict thesis turns out to be bogus.3 For example, the church never tried to ban human dissection, the number zero, or lightning rods, as has frequently been alleged. Although Christians did once countenance the despicable practice of burning heretics, no one was ever executed for scientific beliefs. Even the notorious trial of Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) turns out to have had almost as much to do with the papal ego as with astronomy. Finally, no one in the Middle Ages thought the earth was flat: Christopher Columbus most certainly did not need to prove it is a sphere.

THE PURPOSE OF ANCIENT GREEK SCIENCE

Richard Carrier is far too knowledgeable a historian to fall for these old canards. Neither does he make the mistake of saying Christians deliberately held back science. However, in his chapter in The Christian Delusion, entitled “Christianity Was Not Responsible for Modern Science,” he does make some striking claims. Much of this interesting chapter is taken up by a catalog of the achievements of ancient science. Carrier’s thesis is that a “scientific revolution” was imminent in the third century AD, but this was curtailed by an economic collapse of the Roman Empire. The Empire partially recovered and survived for another couple of centuries, but it quickly succumbed to Christianity. Because Christians were simply not interested in science, the chance of the ancient world matching the achievements of the seventeenth century was lost. Carrier accuses Christians of sins of omission because they neglected science. He doesn’t claim that they actively opposed it.4 Given that Christianity controlled all the seats of learning, it didn’t have to go to the trouble of attacking what it didn’t like. Just ignoring science ensured its stagnation.

Progress in Greek Science

I’ll come to the question of whether Christianity supported science in a moment. But first, it is worth examining exactly how far the achievements of ancient science extended. Is it true that a scientific revolution was just around the corner? To answer that, we need to examine the specific examples Carrier gives of progress in Greek science to see if they point toward a looming scientific revolution. He cites Hero of Alexandria (d. AD 70) as a major figure demonstrating that progress. But can we detect any real advances in science between the work of Aristotle (384–322 BC) and Hero, writing in the first century AD?

Carrier supports his theory with the example that one Strato of Lampsacus (335–269 BC) extended Aristotle’s “experimental method to machines and physics.”5 Strato was the second head of Aristotle’s Athenian school of philosophy in the mid-third century BC. Little of his work survives, but in antiquity he had such a reputation for science that he was known as The Naturalist. His major achievement that we know about today was to show that a true vacuum can be created artificially and that air can be compressed. That’s an impressive step forward from Aristotle, who said a vacuum is impossible. However, the relevant passage of Strato’s work has been incorporated into the introduction to Hero of Alexandria’s Pneumatics, written three hundred years later.6 Carrier claims that Hero experimentally refuted Aristotle’s claim that a vacuum is impossible.7 So why is Hero using a source that is three centuries old to prove it? This does not seem to be evidence of any progress in science at all.

Furthermore, in his Mechanics, Hero states unambiguously that heavy objects fall faster than light ones.8 Now, this is a fundamental error that is easily proven wrong by the simplest of experiments. Yet Hero did not do this. He simply accepted the authority of Aristotle on the question. Hero also wrote about the law of reflection, correctly noting that the angles of incidence and reflection in a mirror are the same. But this had been known since at least Aristotle’s day, so again Hero’s knowledge is not new or the product of new experiments.9 It would be fair to conclude that Hero was a practical mechanic and a tinker who pulled his theory from old books and never did anything approaching a true experiment in his life. As one eminent historian notes, “Hero is not very original. His significance lies in the way that he summarises existing knowledge in the form of a handbook.”10 This is very different from the assessment of Hero implied by Carrier.

Faltering Science

It looks like there was little scientific progress in the three hundred years between Hero and Aristotle’s pupil, Strato. Admittedly, in the field of mathematical astronomy, we do see the models used to describe the movements of the planets getting more accurate up until the work of Ptolemy of Alexandria (fl. c. AD 150). But the underlying physical theory didn’t really improve. The general impression is that science stagnates after the third century BC. There is a temptation to denigrate the ancient Greeks for making a good start and then letting it slip. But that would not be fair. The fact is, they were not trying to develop modern science. How could they when no one had any idea that such advances were even possible? Instead, the point of Greek science was to explain the natural world in terms that correlated with their ethical theories. Aristotle thought that the key to happiness was to know the ends for which we should live. His science is all about trying to find the purpose for which nature is designed. Plato (427–348 BC) wanted to raise our sights above mundane matters to unworldly perfection. For him, nature is a dim reflection of that perfection, and mathematics is a good way for the mind to contemplate higher reality. The other philosophical schools, such as the Epicureans and the Stoics, also had their own versions of science that were intended to provide a foundation for their ethical theories.11

So, the key to understanding Greek science is to realize that no one was seeking objectively to understand the natural world purely for its own sake. On the Nature of the Universe, the Epicurean poem of Lucretius (d. c. 55 BC), which lays out an atomic theory that was influential in the seventeenth century, is actually intended to teach morals and not science. Indeed, its science was already two hundred years out of date when it was written.12 That didn’t matter to Lucretius, whose purpose was not to describe accurately how nature worked but to show that the Epicurean philosophy was the best way to navigate life’s perils.

SCIENCE, EARLY CHRISTIANITY, AND ISLAM

Much ink has been spilled on the relationship between Christianity and pagan science. However, as we’ve seen, there were as many pagan sciences as there were pagan philosophies. And each of these philosophies developed a vision of science that reinforced the way they saw the world. The Christian attitude toward the natural world was very similar to that of their pagan contemporaries. Christian thinkers were acutely aware that ancient Greek science was not the objective study of nature but an adjunct to pagan ethics and religion. Unsurprisingly, this meant some of them treated it with suspicion. For example, Tertullian (AD 160–220) famously asked what Athens (representing pagan philosophy) had to do with Jerusalem (representing Christianity).13 Christians could not simply adopt one of the pagan natural philosophies since they were all intended to provide ballast for particular ethical systems. What was needed was a specifically Christian natural philosophy that understood nature as God’s creation and the backdrop against which the drama of salvation was played out. Christians did not neglect science but they did use it for their own purposes. Where pagan philosophy was helpful, Christians were happy to coopt it. A popular analogy, first proposed by Origen of Alexandria (AD 182–254), was that pagan learning was like the gold of the Egyptians that the Israelites took with them into the wilderness in the exodus.14

For church fathers such as Origen and St Augustine (354–430), God’s creative freedom always had to be respected. That meant reason alone was not enough to comprehend nature. This more skeptical attitude toward rational inquiry had some interesting results. For example, the Christian philosopher John Philoponus (490–570) carried out the simple experiment of dropping a heavy and light ball in the sixth century AD. He found they both fell at almost the same speed.15 This demonstrated that the Aristotelians were wrong and showed that, to truly understand the laws of nature, empirical investigation was essential. Nonetheless, we should avoid applauding Philoponus for anticipating some elements of modern science. He was a Christian thinker whose aim was to attack pagan philosophers, not a protoscientist.

In any case, by the sixth century, the antique world was collapsing rapidly. The Western Roman Empire had been overrun by barbarian invaders in the course of the fifth century. The fragmentation of the empire into petty kingdoms caused an economic decline that was exacerbated by the policies of the barbarians themselves. The civilian elite that had patronized philosophers was gradually replaced by a warrior aristocracy, which eventually gave rise to the systems of chivalry and feudalism. The Eastern Roman Empire survived longer. Unfortunately, a devastating war with Persia in the seventh century meant it was in no condition to resist the rise of Islam. Muslims took over swaths of the empire, including its breadbasket of Egypt and the sacred city of Jerusalem. Although the Byzantine Empire, ruled from the great city of Constantinople, hung on for another seven centuries, it was under an almost constant state of siege from then on.

Scientific Light of the Church in the Early Middle Ages

The period from the fifth to the tenth centuries used to be called the “Dark Ages.” Historians now reject that label as prejudicial, but there is little doubt that the years after the collapse of the Roman Empire were hard. The population shrank, and the economic surplus available for culture was reduced to a fraction of what it had been under Rome.16 Only the Christian church remained a haven for learning. It helped preserve literacy and knowledge of the classics through the early middle ages. Dr Carrier claims, in his chapter on the Dark Ages in Christianity Is Not Great, that the decline of science in this period was the fault of Christians.17 We’ve already seen how it is a category mistake to equate ancient natural philosophy with modern science. But even allowing that there was less interest in investigating the natural world in this period, the reasons are entirely down to external invasions and the change to a feudal society. In fact, as the example of John Philoponus shows, science in Alexandria continued to break new ground in the three centuries after Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire. The end came only with the annexation of the city by Muslim invaders in AD 641.

CHRISTIANITY AND THE RISE OF SCIENCE

We’ve seen how the schools of ancient Greek philosophers and early Christians developed their own versions of science to explain the world in a way that was consistent with their belief systems. The methodological mistake of Carrier is to measure ancient natural philosophies against the rules of modern science. But no one in the classical world was doing science objectively to study nature as an entity in its own right. They were all seeking to understand the natural background to their overarching philosophies. Admittedly, Carrier’s mistake is one shared by some partisans of Christianity’s place in the development of the modern world such as Rodney Stark and Thomas E. Woods.18 Christians have always used science as a way to understand the natural world’s part in a bigger picture, which, in Christianity’s case, includes the Trinity and salvation. Medieval theologians studied God’s creation without any inkling or wish to produce the comprehensive account of the material universe provided by modern science. Nonetheless, their activity uniquely led to the incredible successes enjoyed by physics, chemistry, and biology, not to mention medicine, over the last couple of centuries. To believing Christians, it is hardly surprising that theologically conditioned natural philosophy should be better at leading to true knowledge about nature than rival systems of thought. However, the historian must tread carefully to understand the factors that Christianity brought to the study of the material universe.

The Bible has relatively little to say about the natural world, but at least the book of Genesis makes it clear where the universe came from. It is not eternal but created by God at the beginning of time. In the fourth century, St. Augustine clarified the doctrine that the world was created ex nihilo, out of nothing.19 God did not use preexisting material whose properties He had to work with. Thus, as Genesis affirms, creation was “good” and as God wished it to be.

From the twelfth century, Christian theologians began to explore what this meant in practice. One consequence was that nature was separate from God and followed the laws He had ordained for it. William of Conches (1085–c. 1154), one of the most important of the twelfth century’s thinkers, explained, “I take nothing away from God. All things that are in the world were made by God, except evil. But He made other things through the operation of nature which is the instrument of divine operation.”20 Various Greek philosophies had accepted the rationality of the laws of nature, but for Christians, nature’s laws were God’s laws rather than the laws of logic. God was free to do as He pleased, so it was impossible to work out the laws of nature by using reason alone. To be sure, not everyone accepted this. A group of philosophers in thirteenth-century Paris, called the Averroists after a Muslim philosopher from Spain named Averroes (1126–1198), took the extreme view that everything, including God, was subject to logically necessary rules.21 This meant that rational philosophy alone was enough to comprehend all of existence, even the divine mind. Orthodox Christians rejected this doctrine and insisted that God was not subject to any limits, except perhaps the law of noncontradiction. The principle of God’s freedom and absolute power was the subject of a decree by the bishop of Paris in 1277. He stated that because God could do as He pleased, He could do things that philosophers said were impossible, like creating a vacuum or more than one universe.22 This opened up a world of possibility that Christian natural philosophers were quick to exploit.

In the fourteenth century, they began to consider many previously unthinkable ideas, such as whether the Earth was rotating. The Parisian scholar John Buridan (1295–1361) showed that the concept of relative motion means that we cannot tell if the Earth is moving. His arguments were used by Nicholas Copernicus (1473–1543) to support his theory that the Earth is orbiting the sun.23 Buridan also built on concepts first suggested by John Philoponus in the sixth century to argue that the lack of friction in space means that the planets should continue to move forever after God has set them on their course. This anticipated the conservation of momentum.24 These theories formed the basis of Galileo’s work and reached perfection with the Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy by Sir Isaac Newton (1643–1727) in 1687. Newton himself was explicit about the religious roots of his work, as were Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), Rene Descartes (1596–1650), and Robert Boyle (1627–1691), among many others.25 Over the following centuries, their new kind of science grew into modern physics, chemistry, and biology, something that could never have happened in the ancient Greek or Islamic worlds.

Of course, we need to remember that medieval Christians were not deliberately trying to make progress toward science as we know it today. They were simply studying God’s creation so that they could become better theologians and Christians. In that sense, their motives for doing science were no different from those of earlier eras. It was just that the metaphysical background to Christianity turned out to be uniquely conducive to successfully understanding the working of nature. In summary, atheist historians such as Richard Carrier are wrong to say Christians neglected science and that pagans were on the point of a scientific revolution. On the contrary, Christianity was a necessary, if not sufficient, cause of the flowering of modern science.

James Hannam, PhD (history of science, University of Cambridge), is the author of The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution (Regnery, 2011).


NOTES

  1. Richard Carrier, “Christianity Was Not Responsible for Modern Science,” in The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, ed. John W. Loftus (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2010), 396–419; Richard Carrier, “The Dark Ages,” in Christianity Is Not Great: How Faith Fails, ed. John W. Loftus (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2014), 209–21.
  2. God and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encounter between Christianity and Science, ed. David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), 6.
  3. Many of the myths surrounding the conflict thesis are debunked in Ronald L. Numbers, Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009).
  4. Carrier, “Christianity Was Not Responsible for Modern Science,” 413.
  5. Ibid., 401.
  6. Morris R. Cohen and I. E. Drabkin, A Source Book in Greek Science (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1958), 248n.
  7. Carrier, “Christianity Was Not Responsible for Modern Science,” 402.
  8. Cohen and Drabkin, A Source Book in Greek Science, 208.
  9. Ibid., 262n.
  10. Menso Folkerts, “Hero,” in Hubert Cancik et al., eds., Brill’s New Pauly: Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World, vol. 6 (Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill, 2002), 244–47.
  11. Geoffrey Lloyd, Greek Science after Aristotle (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1975), 21.
  12. Lucretius, On the Nature of the Universe, trans. Ronald Melville (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), xxiv.
  13. David Lindberg, “Science and Early Church,” in God and Nature, ed. Lindberg and Numbers, 25.
  14. Origen (London: Routledge, 1998), 211 (Letter to Gregory 2).
  15. Cohen and Drabkin, A Source Book in Greek Science, 208.
  16. Bryan Ward-Perkins, The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 139.
  17. Carrier, “The Dark Ages,” 209.
  18. See, e.g., Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003) and Thomas Woods, Jr., How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization(Washington, DC: Regnery, 2005).
  19. Saint Augustine, Confessions, trans. R. S. Pine-Coffin (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 2002), 285 (XII: 8).
  20. David C. Lindberg, The Beginnings of Western Science (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 201.
  21. James Hannam, The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2011), 88.
  22. Ibid., 95.
  23. Ibid., 278.
  24. Ibid., 179.
  25. John Hedley Brooke, Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 18–19.

By James Hannam and published in Equip in 2015 and can be found here.

NBI Seminar: Child Custody and Visitation Rights: Termination of Parental Rights

As I have posted recently (see here), I  had the great opportunity to lead (perhaps “teach”) a continuing legal education seminar hosted by the National Business Institute (a.k.a. NBI, see here).  The subject was “Family Law From A to Z” and I had opportunity to speak on two main topics in particular: Custody and Ethics.  I was joined by four other capable attorneys who each had their own topics to present.

Although NBI published the materials, I retain the ownership of the portions I wrote, which I will post here in this blog.

Copied below are the materials I wrote for the section entitled “Termination of Parental Rights.”

Thanks!

__________

The termination of a parent’s rights over his children nearly always occurs in one of two circumstances: voluntary adoption and dependency.

When termination is an issue, the court must appoint an attorney to represent the child when one or both parents contest the termination.  Of course, the court is always free to appoint counsel and/or guardian ad litem for the child.  A lawyer may not represent both the child and one of the parents.  As far as the parents facing possible parental termination are concerned, the court may, upon petition, also appoint an attorney for one or both of them in the event he or she is unable to pay for an attorney.

There are times when parents are willing to voluntarily terminate their rights to their children, typically called relinquishment, say in the context of adoption.  Another option, besides relinquishment, is signing a consent. A parent can sign a consent for their child to be adopted and not have to appear at future hearings.  23 Pa.C.S. § 2504.  Upon receipt of a petition to relinquish parental rights, as mentioned above, a hearing will be scheduled, at least ten days from the filing of the petition, in order for the court to review and rule upon the petition.  Relinquishment is under 23 Pa.C.S. § 2501-2502 and requires a hearing wherein a judge should make sure the parent understands the consequences of relinquishment and is fully aware of his right to trial.  Usually there is a colloquy by the judge or by the parent’s attorney to establish their understanding.

It should be noted that if there is a putative father, which is to say a man who has not been formally legally established to be a child’s father, he may have his rights terminated if he had not filed an acknowledgment of paternity or a claim for paternity and fails to appear at the termination hearing.

Perhaps one of the most compassionate sections of the applicable law toward the parents subject termination is the fact that the court has the obligation to inquire into whether those parents have received counseling.  If not, the court can refer him or her to a qualified counselor.  In the alternative, a parent subject to termination may apply for a referral to counseling as well.  To help facilitate counseling, the state has established a counseling fund pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S.A. §2505(e) to help those who are not in a financial position to afford counseling on their own.

Of course, termination of parental rights is a critical element of adoption and dependency.  Termination in the context of adoption is pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S.A. §2511.  In order to petition to terminate in this context, the parent must (1) evidence a “settled purpose of relinquishing [a] parental claim” over a child or fail to perform parental duties for a period of six (6) months immediately prior to filing to terminate; or, (2) demonstrate repeated abuse or neglect or continued incapacity; or, (3) the parent is the presumptive but not natural father of the child; or, (4) the child is in the custody of an agency and the parent is unknown (and does not claim the child within three months after being found); or, (5) the child has been removed from the care of the parent by court or voluntary agreement for a period of at least six months and the circumstances which led to the removal still persist with no reasonable expectation to improve; or, (6) a newborn child where the parent knows (or should know) of the child but takes no action to be a parent (e.g.: reside with the child or marry the other parent) for a four month period; or, (7) the parent is a father of a child conceived through rape; or, (8) the parent has been convicted of a serious crime (as listed in the statute); or, (9) the parent has committed sexual abuse or is a registered sex offender,

If a parent exhibits no sign of interest in the child over an extended period – typically about six months – he will be at risk of termination.  The Court has made it clear that a child is not an “unwanted toy” for a parent to pick up and play with at his whim and set it down again when tired of it.  Relatedly, being the fun and occasional playmate is not the same as being an involved parent.  Additionally, parental involvement is more than merely paying support or paying for various expenses.  A parent is more than a benefactor.  Interestingly, absence due to incarceration does not necessarily provide sufficient grounds for termination.  Of course, the six month interval is not mechanically applied.  The Court is to fully analyze the underlying matter to determine why there has been such extended absence, and to view the totality of circumstances before ordering termination.

Those who may petition to terminate another person’s parental rights are limited to (1) either parent; (2) an agency; (3) the person who has custody and standing as in loco parentis and has filed a report of intention to adopt; and/or (4) a guardian ad litem of a dependent child.

The party seeking termination must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the parent’s conduct satisfies the grounds listed in 23 Pa.C.S.A. §2511.  If the aforesaid evidentiary standard is met, then the court may consider whether the termination is for the best interests of the child.  As with virtually any other issue regarding the custody or placement of children, the best interests of the child are paramount.  The court is to give primary consideration to the developmental, physical, and/or emotional needs and welfare of the child.  See 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 2511(b)  The statute is clear that issues surrounding environmental factors will not be the sole basis of termination.  Environmental factors include housing, furnishings, income, clothing, medical care, and the like if they are beyond the control of the parent.  Finally, if a parent attempts to remedy the issues and conditions provoking the termination petition after the petition is filed, the court will likely not consider them.  See 23 Pa.C.S.A. §2511(b)

After the filing of a petition for termination, a hearing is held with at least ten days’ notice to the parents, putative father, and parent of a minor parent who has not been terminated.  Following termination, the terminated parent may not object to any adoption proceeding for the child.  Terminated parents nearly always have the right to file updates of his or her personal medical history information after termination.

Resources:

  • 23 Pa.C.S.A. §2313
  • 23 Pa.C.S.A. §2501
  • 23 Pa.C.S.A. §2502
  • 23 Pa.C.S.A. §2503
  • 23 Pa.C.S.A. §2505
  • 23 Pa.C.S.A. §2511
  • 23 Pa.C.S.A. §2512
  • 23 Pa.C.S.A. §2513
  • 23 Pa.C.S.A. §2521
  • In Re L.M., 923 A.2d 505 (Pa.Super. 2007)
  • Baby Boy A. v. Catholic Social Services, 517 A.2d 1244 (Pa.1986)
  • v. Arnold, 665 A.2d 836 (Pa.Super.1995)
  • In re Burns, 474 P. 615 (1977)
  • In re C.S., 761 A.2d 1197 (Pa.Super.2000)
  • In re J.L.C., 837 A.2d 124 (Pa.Super.2003)
  • In re T.F., 847 A.2d 738 (Pa.Super.2004)
  • In re K.K.R.-S., K.M.R. & K.A.R., 958 A.2d 529 (Pa.Super.2008)

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