An odd ruling out of Tennessee has some wondering if a judge overstepped her bounds by changing an infant’s name completely- instead of simply deciding which surname the child would have.
Jaleesa Martin gave birth to a bouncing baby boy on January 9, 2013. She and the child’s father named their son Messiah, but were in disagreement over what his last name should be. The two brought the matter to the Cocke County Chancery Court to make the decision for them. The case fell upon Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew, who decided that “Messiah” was not a suitable name for a child, and instead ruled to name the boy Martin Deshawn McCullough.
And just what exactly was Ballew’s reasoning for axing the name Messiah? A majority of Cocke County’s residents have a deep faith in Christianity, which Ballew cited in her ruling. She was quoted as saying, “It could put him at odds with a lot of people, and at this point he has had no choice in what his name is”. Floored by the decision, Martin said she will appeal the ruling and continue to call her son Messiah. During an interview with WBIR-TV, she said, “I didn’t think a judge could make me change my baby’s name because of her religious beliefs. Everybody believes what they want, so I should be able to name my child what I want to name him.”
Many people, both those in the legal profession and those who are not, are taking issue with Ballew’s ruling, stating that the Magistrate cannot make a ruling based on her religious beliefs.