An Internet campaign has been launched calling for the impeachment of the Texas judge who ordered hundreds of children at the compound owned by the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints church taken into state custody.
The more than 400 children taken from the polygamist sect’s ranch two months ago were being returned to their parents this week, after the state Supreme Court ruled the seizure was not justified.
Walther submitted to the Supreme Court ruling by issuing an order that cleared the children to be released from the state’s foster care program, where they had been since the law enforcement raid on the compound.
The raid, April 3 at the Yearning for Zion Ranch, followed calls to a domestic abuse hot line that allegedly came from a 16-year-old mother claiming to be abused by her middle-aged husband.
The caller has yet to be identified definitively.
The petition is scheduled to be forwarded to Texas lawmakers after “enough” signatures are collected, organizers said said.
“Signing this petition does not mean that you necessarily support the FLDS and their religious views,” reads a cautionary note.
The document reads:
Whereas Texas 51st District Judge Barbara Walther has violated the constitutional rights of more than 400 children and their parents of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints Church (FLDS);
and whereas Judge Barbara Walther took an oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Texas and has violated that oath;
and whereas both an appellate court and the Texas Supreme Court have sided with the FLDS children and their parents against Judge Barbara Walther;
and whereas the actions of Judge Barbara Walther have resulted in a great financial cost to the State of Texas and its taxpayers;
and whereas Judge Barbara Walther’s actions constitute one of the greatest violations of constitutional rights in the history of the State of Texas;
and whereas Judge Barbara Walther should have known ahead of time that what she was doing was unconstitutional, since the Island Pond Raid in the State of Vermont in 1984 was almost identical, and there are other similar cases on record where judges refused to support unconstitutional raids by Child Protective Services;
and whereas Judge Barbara Walther has impeded the reunification of parents with their children, even after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that they should be reunified;
we ask that proceedings begin immediately for the impeachment of District Judge Barbara Walther of the State of Texas.
Authorities in Texas have explained the state’s Child Protective Services took into custody all the children following the calls. Authorities allege the children were at risk because of organization teachings that “pushed underage girls into marriage and sex.”
The church has denied any abuse.
The campaign against the judge was begun by Daniel T. Weaver, who wrote about it at UpstreamZine.com.
“I hope Texans won’t think I am a carpetbagger for initiating an online petition calling for the impeachment of Texas 51st District Judge Barbara Walther. However, as a New York who has had to do battle with Child Protective Services, I have great sympathy for the parents and children whose rights were violated at the FLDS compound in Texas, even though I am opposed to polygamy and to the religious ideas of the FLDS,” he wrote.
Weaver also lists links for anyone who wants to contact the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct, or the judge directly, and urges people to “please be polite.”