Oregon court lets child decide on own circumcision

Friday, January 25, 2008

In an ongoing custody battle, the Oregon Supreme Court decided a 12-year-old boy should have a say in whether he should or should not be circumcised as part of a conversion to Judaism. The child of Lia and James Boldt was raised in the Russian Orthodox Church, but his father James, who has primary custody, converted to Judaism in 2004. The couple divorced in 1999.

After conversion, James began discussing the religion with his son and informed the ex-wife of his intentions for the son to convert as well. The mother objected to the conversion and circumcision as invasive and possibly dangerous. The father argued that his First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion allowed him to choose what religion his child was raised in.

The Oregon Supreme Court in a decision authored by Chief Justice Paul De Muniz reversed the decision of the Oregon Court of Appeals and returned the case to the trial level court. The trial court in Jackson County, Oregon, was to determine if the 12-year-old boy agrees with being circumcised or if he disagrees with the procedure, and take that into account with their ruling. The state supreme court had received four amicus briefs from national Jewish groups supporting the father’s position.