Kentucky judge W. Mitchell Nance, a family court judge In Barren and Metcalfe counties, has announced that he will no longer hear adoption cases that involve “homosexual parties.”
Kentucky state law allows gay couples to adopt. In explaining his refusal to hear these cases, Judge Nance cited an ethics rule that states that a judge must disqualify himself from a case when he has a personal prejudice or bias.
Nance clarified in an issued court order that “as a matter of conscience” he believes that allowing a “practicing homosexual” to adopt would “under no circumstance” promote the best interest of the child.
Gay-rights advocates said they are astounded by Nance’s order.
Dan Canon, a Louisville lawyer who helped ensure the right of same-sex couples to marry in Kentucky, said, “The bottom line is if this judge can’t fulfill his duties because of his duties because of his personal biases, he should resign.”
On the opposite side of the issue, The Family Foundation of Kentucky, a nonprofit organization that advocates for socially conservative legislation, defended Nance’s decision. “If we are going to let liberal judges write their personal biases and prejudices into law, as we have done on issues of marriage and sexuality, then, in the interest of fairness, we are going to have to allow judges with different views to at least recuse themselves from such cases,” spokesman Martin Cothran said in a statement.
Some have questioned whether Nance’s refusal to hear these cases is even ethical. Charles Geyl, an Indiana University law school professor whose research specializes in judicial ethics, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that he may be violating his oath to uphold the law. “If he is unable to set his personal views aside and uphold the law?—?not just in an isolated case, but with respect to an entire class of litigant because he finds them odious?—?it leads me to wonder whether he is able to honor his oath,” Geyl said.
Judge Nance is reportedly also opposed to divorce, but he does hear cases that involve divorced parties.
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