Godwin's Law: As the length of an internet discussion increases, the probability of a reference to Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.
Corollary to Godwin's Law: In any argument, the first participant to invoke Nazis or Hitler loses.
The courts of New Jersey are quite of aware of Godwin's Law. How else to explain New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. I.H.C. and D.C., handed down this morning?
The facts, as found by the trial court, are that I.H.C. and D.C. are the parents of A.H.C, J.C., and H.C. The Division of Youth and Family Services received a complaint about I.H.C. After an investigation, the DYFS found that I.H.C. and D.C. strapped their children into child safety seats during meals. DYFS also learned that I.H.C. and D.C. yelled at one another a lot. And I.H.C.'s ex-wife, before I.H.C.'s marriage to D.C., complained that I.H.C. hit her. D.C. denied that I.H.C. had ever hit her.
Based on its investigation, the DYFS removed the children from the home of I.H.C. and D.C. indefinitely, placing the kids in foster care. Although the family court found that this evidence did not justify removing the children from the home, and ordered the children returned, the New Jersey Appellate Division immediately stayed that order. Today, the Appellate Division held that strapping kids into car seats for meals, yelling, and an allegation by an ex-wife absolutely justify indefinite separation children from their parents.
One presumes that half of the children in New Jersey will be removed from their parents' homes in coming weeks. It isn't as though what I.H.C. and D.C. were found to have done is anything unusual in New Jersey, after all.
The draconian remedy, removal of children from the home, seemed a bit extreme to me. After all, I read all the time of kids who suffer abuse far worse than being strapped into a car seat, or hearing mom and dad yell, being returned to their parents. Alleged wife beaters like I.H.C. are never chemically castrated. They keep breeding like rabbits, and keep their kids. I became curious about who these people actually were, and did a little digging.
And wouldn't you know it, A.H.C. turned out to be our old friend Adolf Hitler Campbell, who was taken from his parents after they complained that Shop-Rite wouldn't give the boy a birthday cake. Yet the New Jersey appellate court never once mentioned, or even hinted at, A.H.C.'s rather unusual name.
Now it isn't unusual for courts not to publish the names of children, but given that I.H.C claimed, all along, that his children were taken from him solely because he's a neo-Nazi with awful taste in baby names, you might think the court would have addressed that point. A cynic might say that the court neglected to address that point because it wanted to see the children removed from their horrible parents on whatever flimsy grounds it could find, without exposing its opinion to First Amendment challenge.
A cynic might say that. But I won't. These children were removed solely because they'd been strapped into car seats, and not because their parents are non-violent but horrible freaks, who unfortunately may have a constitutional right to be horrible freaks.
And I'll look for the court's new, and incredibly broad definition of a threat of domestic violence, to be applied all over the state of New Jersey starting now. Even against parents who don't violate Godwin's Law.
Update: See the comments to this post, which are interesting. On reflection, I owe our frequent commenter Imaginary Lawyer a point, one that he hasn't fully raised but that I didn't consider when I wrote the post.
I do not know that the defendants ever raised a First Amendment or other constitutional issue. I strongly suspect that they did, based on prior media reports (see links above). But it's possible that they didn't on advice of counsel.
Now, I believe that a lawyer who didn't raise a constitutional issue in a case like this, specifically that the parents were singled out based on their horrid beliefs, would be an ass and a fool. And I'll note that Nazis are hypocrites, scoundrels who are the first to raise a Constitution that they despise whenever the government they wish to overthrow acts against them.
But I can't know whether the issue was raised, as all records and briefs are sealed. And if I'm wrong (I doubt that I am), this entire post is moot.
Point to Imaginary Lawyer.