Palmore v. Sidoti
466 U.S. 429, 104 S.Ct. 1879, 80 L.Ed.2d 421 (1984)
Linda and Anthony were married
and had a child (Melanie). Then they got a divorce.
Linda was awarded custody of
Linda got remarried to a
person of another race (scandalous!). Anthony petitioned the court to
give him custody of the child, based on the change in circumstances.
Anthony argued that Linda
was not properly caring for the child, wink wink...
The Trial Court awarded
custody to Anthony. Linda appealed.
The Trial Court made no
findings with respect to Anthony's claims about Linda's lack of care.
The Court found that
"there is no issue as to either party's devotion to the child,
adequacy of housing facilities, or respectability of the new spouse of
However, the Court found
that "despite the strides that have been made in bettering relations
between the races in this country, it is inevitable that Melanie will, if
allowed to remain in her present situation, suffer from the social
stigmatization that is sure to come."
The Appellate Court affirmed.
The Florida Supreme Court
declined grant cert. Linda appealed.
The US Supreme Court reversed.
The US Supreme Court found
that making custody decisions on the basis of race was a violation of the
Equal Protection Clause.
The Court noted that there
may be private prejudices. But, the Constitution cannot control those
prejudices but neither can it tolerate them.
sworn to uphold the Constitution may not avoid a constitutional duty by
bowing to the hypothetical effects of private racial prejudice that they
assume to be both widely and deeply held."
The Court noted that custody
determinations can only be made on the basis of conduct, not conjecture. The courts can't just assume that there will
be a detriment to the child, they have to actually look at what is really
Btw, After the US Supreme
Court decision, Anthony took the girl away to Texas. The Florida Trial
Court found that they no longer had jurisdiction over the child. By the
time the case would have gotten through the Texas court system they would
have likely found that the best interests of the child were to stay in Texas, since that's where she was
used to living.
So sometimes, even if you
win a custody battle, if it takes too long you can still be denied