Should White Supremacists Lose Custody of Their Kids?

A neo-Nazi's recent murder -- committed by his 10-year-old son -- brings to mind an important question: Should the man have had custody of the child to begin with?

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Jeff Hall -- the leader of the Riverside, Calif., chapter of the white-supremacist group the National Socialist Movement -- was found dead at his home on May 1. Police say he was murdered by the 10-year-old son he had successfully won custody of from his ex-wife. Clearly, a case like this raises many questions, but Slate recently answered one of the most important ones: When parents have views like this, can their children be taken away from them?

Custody disputes are decided under the vague "best interests of the child" standard, and judges are allowed to weigh just about any factor -- excepting race, which is off-limits, and religion under certain circumstances. While few judges have assigned custody based solely on a parent's politics, many have mentioned it as a major issue. During World War II, a father in New York was denied custody in part because he had been "contaminated with the germ of Nazism." Garden-variety racist parents and sexual libertines have also lost out. Judges typically couch their decisions in terms of the day-to-day negative effects that a parent's unpopular views might have on the child's mental and social well-being, rather than the risk that the child will himself adopt the belief system."

It's pretty clear that having a virulently racist and anti-semitic parent who buys you SS gear is going to mess with a someone's mental and physical well-being. But do you think hateful views are reason enough to take a child away from a parent?

Read more at Slate.

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Lauren is a former Deputy Editor of The Root.

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