Let's ponder a few implications of this ruling for the near and long term.
For starters, of course, the ruling means FLDS kids should be allowed to go home soon. It will be telling to see, though, if the court and CPS act with the same alacrity and disdain for detail with which they first seized the kids. My guess is that we'll see a bit more legal wrangling before that happens, mostly because of language in the opinion cited by an anonymous commenter in the last post, who added this spot-on observation, citing the next to last paragraph in the SCOTX ruling which states:
"While the district court must vacate the current temporary custody orders as directed by the court of appeals, it need not do so without granting other appropriate relief to protect the children, as the mothers involved in this proceeding concede in response to the Department’s motion for emergency relief. The court of appeals’ decision does not conclude the SAPCR proceedings.”That seems likely to me, which would mean there's a lot more lawyering yet to come. By all accounts Judge Walthers has behaved defiantly in the wake of the Third Court's ruling, hoping to justify her decisions instead of accepting that they were wrong. I don't expect that to change soon.
Essentially, the SC puts the ball back into district judge Walthers’ court —to do as she pleases ordering ‘other appropriate relief to protect the children’ in the way of SAPCR orders (court orders on custody/parentage, etc.) And, especially, the Supreme Court particularly traps those mothers who ‘concede’–’admit’–likely being those who signed the coerced CPS ‘Plans’ – admitting they were abusive by clauses contained therein.
The best positive from the SC’s decision is it nearly forces Walthers to deal with each family individually. However, the bad news is the SC turned the whole ‘vacate the order’ over to Walthers, again,—but, qualifying that by telling her she can use other ‘appropriate protective’ measures.
But there's another implication to this development that I find amusing and ironic. Texas CPS argued to the Supreme Court that the main reasons they couldn't return kids to their families were that they couldn't identify their parentage (despite the fact that they'd matched kids to parents in court and they didn't bother matching kids with parents when they seized them), and that if CPS released the kids, their families constituted a flight risk.
As a result, FLDS women's attorneys argued that the court had authority to use less punitive means to restrict families from leaving the jurisdiction, and the Supremes agreed; that's what gives Judge Walther the extra leverage mentioned above.
However, for the locals like Sheriff Doran and Judge Walther, IMO the real purpose of the raid was never to investigate child abuse but to run the YFZ Ranch residents flat out of the region. (This goal has frequently been openly discussed, including suggestions that the entire ranch's assets be seized to pay for CPS' boondoggle.)
After the women and kids were all gone, media accounts described the YFZ Ranch as nearly a "ghost town." But now a court order and CPS restrictions will REQUIRE them to stay in one place instead of going back to Arizona, etc.. Probably, even more sect members will join them, since these folks can't leave and the only FLDS temple is at the ranch. With FLDS recently ordering hundreds of voter registration cards, and court proceedings possibly stretching on for years, I predict the ruling virtually guarantees a huge FLDS voting bloc will henceforth act in Schleicher County to oust the politicians who sponsored this mess.
In other words, the raid likely has facilitated the future takeover of this West Texas community that locals had feared but which heretofore never actually occurred. If I'm right that the real goal was to remove them entirely, then this whole operation really backfired. If we don't see a wave of politicians in that county over the next few years named Jeffs, Barlow and Jessop, I'll be darn surprised.
After the Third Court of Appeals ruling, I posed several questions, some of which still remain unresolved in the wake of yesterday's result.
What does this mean for families that already signed CPS "service plans"? Will those be deemed invalid since the child seizures that spawned them weren't justified?
Similarly, if the judge had no authority to order the children's seizure, does that mean she also had no authority to order the much-ballyhooed DNA testing, results of which are expected back soon? What happens with those results?
Another still-unanswered question: "if CPS had no authority to seize FLDS kids, and while it illegally had custody CPS consented, as the minors' (illegal) legal guardian, to interrogation without counsel by law enforcement, will such evidence be excluded as 'fruit of the poisonous tree' from any criminal prosecutions?" It seems likely, but I don't know.
What happens with the 90 new staff positions CPS got approval for in order to handle this case? Will the Legislature still allow them to move forward with those new hires, or will they shut down the expansion?
Perhaps most critically, when will the press investigate the pre-raid machinations that launched this fiasco? When will we hear the story of Rozita Swinton, the hoaxer whose phone calls started the mess? She's been incommunicado now for nearly two months. I want to know how she latched onto FLDS, who she spoke to before the incident, and when someone first figured out she was faking. Why hasn't she been charged in the YFZ case? Why haven't we heard her story?
All that said, yesterday's ruling was a mitvah and a blessing. Guy over at Messenger and Advocate offered this eloquent statement about the ruling's larger meaning for the nation and the Constitution:
I suppose in part it means, that the Founding Fathers, back in the day of this country’s infancy, were indeed inspired men, raised up by God to enshrine God given rights in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. In part it means that the rule of law is still paramount even today, even when a state is investigating an extremely unpopular religious movement. In part, I think it means that we should be grateful that the passions of the moment are subject to later review by cooler and calmer minds.He's right; we should be grateful. So let me say formally, "Thank you Texas Supreme Court. ... Thank you Third Court of Appeals."
As egregious as the state's actions have been, you provided a constitutional backstop that limited the damage and protected individual rights. Today I'm proud of these members of the Texas judiciary. Let's hope Judge Walthers pays attention to what they've told her.
UPDATE: FLDS kids will begin returning home Monday.
NUTHER UDPATE: Judge Walthers added extra conditions that may delay the kids' return. More appellate filings expected. The Lone Star Times says FLDS was 'Walthered' again.