A New York woman could lose custody of her daughter if she doesn't remove a Confederate flag display from her property.
In a unanimous 5-0 ruling , an appeals court in Albany ordered the Tompkins County woman to remove a rock from her driveway that's painted with a Confederate flag or risk a possible "change of circumstances" in the custody case of her multiracial daughter, reported the Times Union.
"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," wrote Justice Stanley Pritzker in the ruling.
The court allowed the woman and the girl's father to retain joint custody of their daughter, who was born in 2014 and goes to school near Ithaca, but the judges ordered the mother to remove the rock by June 1 or the Family Court would be obligated to consider its presence "into any future best interests analysis" for the child.
The mother testified at a fact-finding hearing that she had the Confederate flag-decorated rock outside her home, but she insisted that she did not act racist around the girl.
"In response to questioning, the mother testified that she has never used any racial slurs in front of the child or at all," the ruling said.
The child's law guardian told the newspaper that he believes the mother only recently moved into the home and he's not sure if she placed the rock there, but he backs the court's reasoning.
"I think it's appropriate," said Ithaca-based attorney Jason Leifer.
But he's concerned the ruling could lead to the future litigation of political views and opinions that could worsen already strained relationships and create tensions that aren't in a child's best interests.
"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 said. "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."