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Judge Who Said Parents Couldn't Name Their Child 'Messiah' Was Just Dealt a Stinging Legal Blow


"...when a judge oversteps his or her bounds and infringes on the constitutional rights of the people ... it's something that we pay attention to."

Remember the Tennessee judge who ruled last month that parents Jaleesa Martin and Jawaan McCullough couldn't name their son "Messiah?"

The mother and father were stunned after going to court to battle over the boy's last name (Martin and McCullough disagreed over the child's surname) only to be told by child support magistrate Lu Ann Ballew that the boy's first name -- Messiah -- was unacceptable.

"The word Messiah is a title and it's a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ," said Ballew back in August, defending her controversial decision.

At the time, as TheBlaze and the Associated Press noted, the judge also said that the name would potentially put the child "at odds with a lot of people." She was essentially saying that Christians and others who believe that the name is reserved solely for Jesus would be angry over the parents' decision to use it.

But Martin and McCullough weren't on board with her arguments.

In August, the mother voiced her frustration that a public official was stepping into her parenting role and renaming her child. The case instantly gained international attention, of course, as debates over the separation of church and state and parental rights raged.

"Everybody believes what they want so I think I should be able to name my child what I want to name him, not someone else," the frustrated mother said at the time.

This latter argument apparently worked. WPTV-TV has more about a new ruling that sides against Ballew and with the parents:

Based on the latest decision, the 8-month-old's name does not need to be legally changed to Martin DeShawn McCullough. County Chancellor Telford E. Forgety in Newport, Tenn., ruled that Messiah's original name on his birth certificate will stand, reports NPR.

Martin's lawyer Kristi Davis said that she isn't surprised by the latest decision to overturn the "Messiah" ban.

"I think it's truly a recognition by the citizens of our country that when a judge oversteps his or her bounds and infringes on the constitutional rights of the people that come in front of them, it's something that we don't like, and it's something that we pay attention to," she said, according to the AP.

The case is settled and the parents, despite their previous debate over the child's surname, will now be able to leave his first name intact.

Featured Image Credit: WVLT-TV

(H/T: NPR)



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