Although the U.S. Supreme Court has looked upon these laws with a somewhat skeptical eye, several states have enacted “grandparent visitation” laws that permit some children’s grandparents to spend time with them even against the wishes of their parents. In an Alabama Supreme Court case considering that state’s grandparent visitation law, Justice Tom Parker offered a particularly odd reason to strike the law down:
The main opinion in this case references Troxel v. Granville, for the principle that parents have a fundamental right to direct the care and upbringing of their children. This right does not originate with Troxel, however; it has existed for millennia, an integral part of the institution of the family. . . .
One man and one woman came together in covenant before God, and they, with the children God gave them, became the first human social structure. As William Blackstone wrote, “single families … formed the first natural society,” becoming “the first though imperfect rudiments of civil or political society.” There was no state: no one person had been given civil authority over another, to punish evil and to prevent oppression. Nor was there a church to provide structure and order in the worship of the Creator. Both of these necessary institutions would come later — indeed, they were prefigured in the discipline and worship of the family — but the “sacred” relationships, within the family came first.
This is, to say the least, a strange way for a judge to behave. The Bible is pretty clear that people who claim to understand God’s justice are wrong. And the Constitution is even more clear that law flows from the will of the people, not from one man’s reading of a religious text.
Moreover, this kind of judicial speculation about the will of God has a sordid place in American history. When a Virginia judge was asked to consider whether an interracial couple may legally marry, he too claimed the power to read God’s mind.
Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix
Thankfully, the Supreme Court’s justices did not believe themselves to be prophets, and they unanimously reversed the would-be seer in the landmark Loving v. Virginia decision.
Sadly, there is reason to believe that Parker would have come down the wrong way in that decision as well. Parker is not simply a disciple of disgraced former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, he also has a long history of bigoted and hateful associations. The picture above depicts Parker with two local hate group leaders. One is Leonard Wilson, a segregationist and national board member of a group called the Council of Conservative Citizens that has described African-Americans as “a retrograde species of humanity.” The other is Mike Whorton, Alabama state leader of the neo-Confederate League of the South. Parker also exposed his personal animus towards gay Americans when he recently compared a judge who struck down the unconstitutional Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy to Al-Qaeda.