A state appeals court said Thursday an upstate New York woman involved in a custody dispute over her multiracial daughter should remove a small Confederate flag painted on a rock near her driveway in the girl's best interest.
The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court made the comment in a decision allowing continued joint custody of an unidentified Ithaca-area girl born in 2014. If the rock is not removed by June 1, the court said it will “constitute a change in circumstances” that Family Court will factor into any future analysis of the best interests for the child.
“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,” read the 5-0 decision, first reported on by the Times-Union of Albany.
The mother, identified as Christie B.B., testified during a fact-finding hearing that she had the rock at her home. She also said she does not use racial slurs. The appeals court noted that the flag was not addressed by the Family Court or the child's attorney, but said it should be removed.
The mother was not represented by an attorney. She rented the home and it was unclear if it was her rock.
An attorney for the child, Jason Leifer, said he understood the court's concern about Confederate symbols, but said it could lead to political views being litigated more often in Family Court.
“I just think that this thing opens a door to litigating … someone’s personal opinions on something,” Leifer said.