Story at a glance

  • Albany, N.Y., district court justices ruled last week a Confederate flag painted on a rock in a woman’s driveway could play a role in an ongoing battle for custody of her multiracial child.
  • An appellate division of the state’s second highest court ruled in a 5-0 decision a couple would retain joint custody of their child born in 2014.
  • But Justice Stanley Pritzker wrote in the court’s ruling the woman has until June 1 to remove the rock from her driveway. Otherwise, it could factor "into any future best interests analysis.”

Albany, N.Y., district court justices ruled last week a Confederate flag painted on a rock in a woman's driveway could play a role in an ongoing battle for custody of her multiracial child. 

An appellate division of the state's second highest court ruled in a 5-0 decision that a couple would retain joint custody of their child born in 2014, The Albany Times Union first reported. But Justice Stanley Pritzker wrote in the court's ruling the woman has until June 1 to remove the rock from her driveway. Otherwise, it could factor "into any future best interests analysis."

"Given that the child is of mixed race, it would seem apparent that the presence of the flag is not in the child's best interests, as the mother must encourage and teach the child to embrace her mixed race identity, rather than thrust her into a world that only makes sense through the tortured lens of cognitive dissonance," Pritzker wrote.

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Pritzker wrote in the ruling the mother, identified as Christie BB in court documents, testified she had the rock in her driveway, which the judge declared a "a symbol inflaming the already strained relationship between the parties," according to the Times Union. The mother told the court "she has never used any racial slurs in front of the child or at all."

"As such, while recognizing that the First Amendment protects the mother's right to display the flag if it is not removed by June 1, 2021, its continued presence shall constitute a change in circumstances and Family Court shall factor this into any future best interests analysis," Pritzker wrote. 

Justices John Egan, Sharon Aarons, Molly Reynolds Fitzgerald and John Colangelo joined Pritzker in the ruling, the paper reported.

The child's law guardian Jason Leifer told the Times Union he was in favor of the court's ruling, although he was not sure whether the rock belonged to the mother. Liefer said he thinks "it's appropriate because it brings political views that could potentially damage the child's well-being into the custody discussion."

"I think parties will now raise objections to many symbols and opinions held by the other party, including some that the majority of society does not find offensive," Leifer said. 

"What's going to have to happen is this - if the issue is raised the court will need to hear evidence of the child how the child's well-being is negatively affected by a parent's views and opinions," Leifer added. "In some cases this will be easy, such as if a child is being indoctrinated into a hate group, but in many cases it won't be so easy." 

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Published on May 10, 2021