Does a judge have the right to change a baby's name

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  1. RealityTalk profile image60
    RealityTalkposted 9 years ago

    Does a judge have the right to change a baby's name

    Just recently a Newport, Tennessee court, decided a mother could not name her baby "Messiah."  Apparently, Messiah is fast becoming a popular name for a child.  The Town of Newport is reputed to consist of a large Christian population and that obviously fed into the judge's decision.  The judge stated on the record that the religious name was earned by one person and "that one person is Jesus Christ."  Whatever one's religious beliefs, the courts are supposed to divorce themselves of religious decision making and apparently this judge, Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew, did not.

  2. profile image0
    Marie Brannonposted 9 years ago

    I'm not familiar with Tennessee law, but in Texas, a child's birth certificate is filled out and sent to the city/county and state bureaus by a hospital or midwife.  Somebody would have to file a lawsuit against somebody else in order for a judge to even entertain the question.  So, to my way of thinking, it's not necessarily a religious question.  It depends on who filed the complaint, an angry family member or the Bureau of Vital Statistics, or a minister?  The possibilities are endless.

    1. RealityTalk profile image60
      RealityTalkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Google the case for more details; it was on Yahoo this morning. It was a couple before the court arguing the name.  The court decided on religious, not secular grounds however. The name was offensive to the court, so the judge chose a name.

  3. peeples profile image91
    peeplesposted 9 years ago

    This is sickening! So many parents name their children Vodka, Lexus, Prada, and all the other stupid names and a judge is worried about Messiah!?!? If I was the mother I would sue the heck out of the city for mixing their personal religious beliefs with politics! It will be a great day when the government learns to mind their own business and keep their religious beliefs out of their politics!

    1. Express10 profile image85
      Express10posted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I agree with you. I have heard of names like Mercedes, OShaunda, and what not. I feel bad for the kids but they will be able to change their names if they choose to. We've got worse problems that judges should be tending to.

    2. RealityTalk profile image60
      RealityTalkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I agree w/u Peeples & Express10. I would never choose the name Messiah for one of my children, but I believe I can give my child whatever name I choose.  The judge overstepped her bounds & should be disciplined.

  4. lburmaster profile image75
    lburmasterposted 9 years ago

    In Sweden, the name of every child must be approved. One girl wasn't approved and was listed as "Girl". That was her name, Girl. But I think it's interesting that we can't name our children something in the United States. Some people even change their name to "Darth Vader", so what is wrong with Messiah?

    1. RealityTalk profile image60
      RealityTalkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I agree with you. This ain't Sweden."  No U.S. Court should be able to interject their personal religious beliefs into a decision. As long as the child isn't named "Run, there is a bomb and the building is on fire." LOL.

  5. Lady Guinevere profile image74
    Lady Guinevereposted 9 years ago

    What's in a name? Jesus's real name wasn't Jesus either and it wasn't messiah either. It was Immanuel.....maybe. Jesus is not pronounce like everyone pronounces it either. In the Middle East where the name is used many time it is pronounced like Hey Zeus. Judges have no right to tell you what name to call your children. Now some parents have no idea what problems can arise from a childs sweet name they chose as that child grows up.....Like a boy named SUE! lol

    1. RealityTalk profile image60
      RealityTalkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I love Johnny Cash! Messiah isn't even a holy name; it's a description of the chosen one. And how many Hispanics are named Jesus which is the common name of the messiah.  Too many to count.

    2. Lady Guinevere profile image74
      Lady Guinevereposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I no what you mean.  Government can't do that period.

  6. fpherj48 profile image61
    fpherj48posted 9 years ago

    R.T.  Since your question asks specifically for an opinion on whether a Judge can "change" a baby's name, or prevent a parent from naming their child with the name of their choice.....there can be several correct answers. 
    Every city, town, county, State have their "local" rules, regs & codes.   We can't know them unless we seek them out to learn.  I would highly doubt (except perhaps in the Bible Belt deep South) there are many areas, allowing a judge such privilege or power.  Even in this case, it can certainly be grounds for a law suit and appeal, all the way to Supreme Court, I imagine.......where this "Christian Lady Judge" would be firmly told that a child's NAME is the business and choice of a parent ONLY.....and to butt out!
    Myself personally....As with most areas of my life.....I'm a simple, realistic, plain Jane, who rarely goes for the "unusual or bizarre."  It would never occur to me to name my sons, anything but a strong, traditional, acceptable, male name, like Frederick, Paul, Edmund & Robert.  HOWEVER...had I chosen, "Messiah" for any reason would require "THE MESSIAH," appearing before me and telling me in clear, concise ENGLISH, "You may NOT use MY name for your child."......and you can be sure, I'd ask Him "WHY?"

    1. RealityTalk profile image60
      RealityTalkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Don't take my question too literal. It's not what a judge can do; it is what "can" a judge do. Confusing? Legislation vs Constitutional law. I would hope u would be right about the Supreme Ct., but the S.C. is often politically motivated.

    2. fpherj48 profile image61
      fpherj48posted 9 years agoin reply to this

      The reality is, I am so not into "far out"  names for children, I have difficulty even treating these topics seriously.  What does a parent want for his/her child to have as NAME, for a LIFETIME?and what do they they take into consideration b-4hand?

  7. profile image0
    CalebSparksposted 9 years ago

    I don't have enough of the facts to have an opinion about this, but I will say one thing about your question's picture and what you said in your intro, RealityTalk.

    "Separation of church and state" means that the government is not supposed to enforce a state religion or official religion. It does NOT mean that government officials cannot draw upon their religious beliefs when making decisions.

    I just wanted to point that out.

    1. RealityTalk profile image60
      RealityTalkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      But gov. is not allowed to make a decision "based" on their religious beliefs, which is exactly what this judge did.  She even put it on the record that that is why she decided the way she did.  That is not allowed under our Constitution.

    2. profile image0
      RTalloniposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I believe it is allowed under our constitution and that's why there's a sadly subtle move to change the constitution.

    3. profile image0
      CalebSparksposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Where, RealityTalk? You are citing something from the Constitution that doesn't exist.

    4. RealityTalk profile image60
      RealityTalkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Constitutional Law 101.  The judge in this case interjected her religious beliefs. Justice Black wrote decisions relating to the establishment clause, where he insisted on the strict separation of church and state. & "messiah" is not Jesus' name.

  8. CraftytotheCore profile image75
    CraftytotheCoreposted 9 years ago

    I had not heard of this before so I looked it up.  There is a newscast with live interview with the Judge on the internet.  I heard her perspective about it.  What I found, because I have never known any other parent to name their child Messiah, is that in 2005, it was ranked 904th baby name while 387th in 2012.  The popularity of the name is actually growing.

    So, does a judge have the right to change a baby's name? 

    This Judge is a Family Court Judge.  Family Court is a different ballgame, different set of rules.  When two parents have a child together and are divorced or never married but separated, Judges (and states) have a lot more weight in the decision for the child.

    I can't specifically say whether the judge has a right to change the baby's name yet.  It has been done here, but who is to say the Judge's ruling will stick if there is an appeal.  There is no previous case law, I don't think, because the internet is buzzing with this case right now, so my efforts of finding precedented case law are limited. 

    However, I did find an article from May 2009 that says there are laws regarding baby names as some parents have found out all of the world in different countries.

    1. RealityTalk profile image60
      RealityTalkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I practiced in Family Court for years. The judge has no right to interject her religious beliefs." Best Interests of the Child" has nothing to do with this case. The judge can try to mitigate the damage to her image on TV, but she is wrong.

    2. CraftytotheCore profile image75
      CraftytotheCoreposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I worked mostly in estates and trusts, but I did file for my own divorce.  Courts and states have more "rights" once parents are divorced.  I agree with you, she has no right to base a case on her religious beliefs.  I'm interested in the appeal!

  9. cat on a soapbox profile image95
    cat on a soapboxposted 9 years ago

    In the case you've referenced, I would agree that the answer ins "No."  A judge needs to rule by law not religious beliefs. Parents, on the other, hand should exercise more common sense when naming their children!

    1. RealityTalk profile image60
      RealityTalkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      When I was younger, I thought African Americans came up with outlandish names; names that weren't John, Jim or Pam.  Now, I love them. I wanted to name a daughter T'Chala, a derivative of an African name. Who r we to decide the rightness of a name?

  10. crazymom3 profile image72
    crazymom3posted 9 years ago

    Well.  I won't comment about the Messiah name, but through my own experience of trying to change my daughter's last name at the age of six and a half I found the law to be simply stupid and unreasonable.  They said there is a policy that if she is even just a day over the 6 year-old mark, the Birth Certificate office said they couldn't change the name on the certificate.  I had to pay money and petition a judge in family court (about $360 at that time) .  Angered and flustered, I felt then and still feel now that I made this child and until they are 18 that child is mine, not the governments,MINE and I should have the right to name them or re-named them  whatever the poop I want.  The explanation at the state-office was that it was about that age that official school records are made and they want to keep things in order so every one in this world doesn't change their child's name and create chaos.  So the answer  to your question NO, they shouldn't have the right, but they do, because like every one else has already said the rules of family law are different then normal reasonable laws.

    1. RealityTalk profile image60
      RealityTalkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Actually Family Court has no special privileges to enforce the court's personal religious beliefs on people. I was an attorney in Family Court. This judge was wrong.

  11. ladydeonne profile image73
    ladydeonneposted 9 years ago

    People here in America never cease to amaze me.  Somehow extreme Christians believe that they are special and can do or say anything to the rest of us who are too "stupid" or "un-Godly" to think for our selves.  No judge has the authority to change a child's first name based on such a ridiculous and irrational reason as that provided by Judge Lou Ann Ballew.  Messiah is a beautiful name to me, as is Jesus.
    There are many named Jesus in the world. There are millions of Muhammads in the world.  Some where in the world, there is someone named Messiah.  As a parent, I can and have the right to name my child "God" if I so choose.  That Judge may have a JD after her name but that doesn't mean that she is intelligent or of sound mind and judgement.  In my opinion she does not have the ability to "judge" or pass sentence on anyone.  She harms and takes advantage of individuals who don't believe they have a voice.  In the name of "God," she is belittling and setting herself up as a "know-it-all."  Ballew should be terminated and her decision overturned.  I plan to contact the parents and help make that happen.  We need to leave God's business up to God and The court's business up to the court.

    1. CraftytotheCore profile image75
      CraftytotheCoreposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Amen to that!  That's why I say, I can't wait to see the appeal.  I just can't imagine this sticking in court.

    2. RealityTalk profile image60
      RealityTalkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Very strong opinion, but I agree. Check out my 4th comment to RTalloni that lists some of the names of celebrities & their children. Moses & Elijah are among them. No one questions them or the Hispanic worlds use of the name Jesus.

  12. Diana Lee profile image81
    Diana Leeposted 9 years ago

    No, it is not right for the judge to change the child's name. What gives them the right?  The next thing you know we will all be issued names along with our social security numbers and have no say about that either. They crossed the line on this one.

    1. RealityTalk profile image60
      RealityTalkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Well said Diane.

  13. Rosana Modugno profile image75
    Rosana Modugnoposted 9 years ago

    I was so angry when I heard about this on the news.  First of all, I have a few friends named Jesus and some with surnames; DeJesus.  I should tell them to all move to Newport. LOL   

    And did you know you can't name your child a number?  Don't laugh but I've always wanted to name my first born One and the second Two and so on. LOL  It's silly now but when I was younger, it was an idea and now it's illegal.

    I absolutely do not agree with this decision and hope they fight it.  The judge put her own personal religious beliefs against that of the parent's beliefs and in my opinion that's religious discrimination.  If we aren't allowed to say "One nation under God" in schools because state can't mix religion, then gov shouldn't either.  But that's my opinion.

    1. CraftytotheCore profile image75
      CraftytotheCoreposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I have a relative named Seven.  It's actually a common name around here.

    2. RealityTalk profile image60
      RealityTalkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      A good friend named his daughter "Five."  I believe you should be able to name your child whatever you like except "fire" or "it's a bomb." If you shout to a child with either of those 2 names, it might cause a panic. LOL.

  14. taburkett profile image59
    taburkettposted 9 years ago

    Maybe - under most circumstances this activity would never have been a problem.  But, as usual, the parents created the problem when they could not determine what the last name for the boy should be.  Therefore, if the parents had not gone to court over the last name, then nothing would have occurred.  No judgment would have been made.  But, when the parents were seeking a name, they opened themselves to the judges decision.
    Many decisions have been made by judges based on their personal experience and upbringing.  Changing a name is routinely requested by individuals and just as routinely disapproved by judges. 
    While in college, I met an individual who had his first name changed to JT and removed his middle name.  His parents had named him Jesus Tou when he was born.  JT had used only his initials beginning from first grade when a teacher suggested that he not use his full name after another student asked her if JT was God.
    JT was determined not to provide confusion to others and so as an adult, he requested the change and the judge approved it.  The judge in that case had stated that the individual request came from a very deserving person because JT had saved 5 children from a burning house.
    Reference to a religious artifact, name, situation, or Church affiliation is not a law that demands the private sector to join a church or become Christian.
    The Constitution does not state that a judge should not use common sense when dealing with decisions, it simply says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....."
    Since the judge in this case made no law as outlined here, the judge ruled under the law.  Since the parents created the situation, they were provided the decision they had requested according to the situation they created. 
    They did not have a name for the child when they entered the court, but did receive a formal name when the judge processed the decision.  So, as usual, everyone wants to challenge under "separation of church and state".  However, neither is applicable in this case since the parents had requested different names for the boy.  The judge provided a name and so the judgment was proclaimed. 
    Many will claim this to be wrong, but preventive care is what this court is all about.  And, under the ruling, preventive care is what occurred. 
    On the one hand, we have protestors shouting "Stop the bullying" but in this case they are saying create a situation for it.

    1. RealityTalk profile image60
      RealityTalkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      You are mistaken on Constitutional law. And the judge went beyond what is acceptable. The judge stated religion was why she decided as she did. She said only one was allowed being called Messiah. Read Justice Black & Supreme Ct. decisions.

  15. Vlorsutes profile image77
    Vlorsutesposted 9 years ago

    I've personally felt that the United States should adopt a set of laws like a number of European countries do where there are a number of "generally accepted" names that you can name your child, and if the name you come up with doesn't fall under one of those generally accepted ones, then it is brought before a committee to judge on the name to see if it would be "appropriate" or not.

    I've been strongly against parents (especially celebrity parents as of late, but parents in general) that name their child what could be deemed "absurd" names just for publicity's sake or to make the child "special". You as a parent are just opening up the child to potential emotional and physical trauma by giving them a name that they'd be bullied and teased about, and I could argue that as child endangerment. I mean, when you're giving your child a name like "Pilot Inspektor" or something similarly out there, you are basically just asking for the child to be teased and bullied in school. Teasing and bullying is rampant enough as is in schools nowadays, and parents shouldn't be going about doing things to the child that they have to know would paint a bull's eye on their child.

    I don't agree with the judge's reasoning as to why, because that is a religious reason and they needs to detach themselves from that, but one can't deny that religion plays a part in why such a name may be deemed inappropriate. Giving the child a name such as "Messiah" is asking for backlash from both religious and atheist groups together, and in such a large Christian population as Newport has, that is going to cause problems for the child and the family. For the child's well-being, I agree that his name should have been changed, but I don't agree with the reason the judge gave for the name change.

    1. RealityTalk profile image60
      RealityTalkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Who decides what names are appropriate? That's socialism or a dictatorship. And, any name can be made fun of. Greg/egg. Lucy - that girl is ... You would take away a parent's right to name their child, their creation.

  16. CrescentSkies profile image65
    CrescentSkiesposted 9 years ago

    He doesn't have the right based on religion and if the family sued and took it to even a slightly higher court that judge would be removed from office for violation of constitutional rights.

    If you named your kid something like l337sf3152 then I think the judge probably has every right to have your kid renamed, taken into protective custody, and you thrown into a mental asylum though.

    1. RealityTalk profile image60
      RealityTalkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      What if I named my child "it's a bomb" or "I've got a gun?"  Calling them for dinner might cause a problem. LOL.

  17. profile image0
    Lybrahposted 9 years ago

    Yes, a judge should have the right to it.  People need to stop naming their kids stupid names.  I wrote a blog about this.  Check it out if you have time.

    1. RealityTalk profile image60
      RealityTalkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I will read your Hub, but what makes "Alison" an acceptable name? Broke apart it is Ali - like Muhammad & Son - someone's child. It only sounds acceptable to you because u grew up with it. So a stranger can demand u name your child from her list?

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