Do you remember this cute little guy?? In what started out as a family dispute that quickly gained worldwide attention, an appellate court has ruled that 8 month old Messiah Deshawn McCollugh has “earned” his name.
Last month during a family court hearing to determine the last name of the child, Magistrate Judge Lu Ann Ballew ruled that the baby could not be named ‘Messiah’ because it was a title that he had not earned. Ballew cited her own religious beliefs in the ruling, stating that the “title was earned” by one person and one person only, Jesus Christ.
According to Ballew:
“The word Messiah is a title and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ. […] ?It could put him at odds with a lot of people and at this point he has had no choice in what his name is.”
Not only was Ballew wrong in her understanding of religious history, but the mere fact that she cited her own religious beliefs for the reason of the decision was completely unconstitutional.? Ballew had not been charged with the task of changing the baby’s first name either. Her judgment had made international news quickly, and the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint against Ballew with the Tennessee state Board of Judicial Conduct.? The board has yet to issue a public ruling regarding the complaint.
Wednesday, Chancellor Telford E. Forgety Jr.?overturned Ballew’s decision saying that the lower court had in fact acted unconstitutionally and violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Forgety also explained that there is no basis in the law for changing a child’s first name when both parents are in agreement.? His decision came after only 30 minutes of the star of the hearing.
Kristy Davis, attorney for the mother of the baby, Jaleesa Martin stated:
“I think it’s truly a recognition by the citizens of our country that when a judge oversteps his or her bounds and infringes on the constitutional rights of the people that come in front of them, it’s something that we don’t like, and it’s something that we pay attention to.“
So far, Ballew has refused to comment about the higher court’s decision.
As noted in a previous article, Messiah was the 633rd most popular name for boys in 2011, and the 387th most popular name for boys in 2012. That makes Messiah the fourth fastest growing name for baby boys.
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