"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"I can understand executing a search warrant at the Eldorado polygamist compound to look for a 16 year old girl who phoned in an anonymous complainant about her forcible marriage at 15 to a 50-year old. But I don't immediately see under what authority the Department of Public Safety forcibly removed more than 200 women and children from the compound in the process. Indeed, "A caravan of K-9 unit vehicles were seen headed down the road to the compound on Sunday morning." But they've already removed everyone who might be the victim (at this time they still haven't identified her), what are they looking for with the dogs?
That must be quite a search warrant some judge signed off on, though I suppose we should be thankful they didn't bring in ATF again and burn the place down like in Waco. This whole episode makes me uncomfortable for many reasons, more like government persecution of a religion and lifestyle than the investigation of a specific crime. I'm very interested to hear readers' views on the topic, particularly any attorneys who might have opinions on the church-state implications of the DPS raid on the compound and the forcible evacuation of non-suspect residents.
UPDATE: A more current total is 401 children removed from the compound, and "133 women have voluntarily joined the children, who are being held at an historic site, Fort Concho, that includes facilities for lodging." The San Angelo Standard Times has a good writeup of the legal processes so far, declaring:
The Standard Times adds that the Fort Concho site:
State law no longer requires emergency 24-hour hearings after CPS removes a child from parental custody, instead leaving the timing at the discretion of the judge, who in these cases is 51st District Judge Barbara Walther.
"The judge can waive that hearing," said Debbie Brown, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center of Tom Green County, "and apparently, she's done that."
lacks capacity for the total number of people removed from the ranch, Meisner said.
Authorities have arrested one person at the FLDS' Schleicher County compound, but the suspect sought since Thursday remains at-large.
The person arrested faces a misdemeanor charge of interfering with the duties of a public servant, said Lisa Block, an Austin-based spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.