Dad appeals teen son's circumcision to U.S. Supreme Court

THE OREGONIAN, Portland, Friday, May 16, 2008.

Dad appeals teen son's circumcision to U.S. Supreme Court

A divorced father who wants to circumcise his 13-year-old son against the wishes of the boy's mother is trying to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court

James Boldt, who converted to Judaism, argues that preventing him from circumcising his son violates his constitutional right to practice his religion.

The U.S. Supreme Court accepts a small fraction of the appeals it receives. A decision on whether it will take the case is not expected until the fall.

Earlier this year, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that the trial judge should determine what the boy wants.

Boldt's ex-wife, Lia, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, says her son doesn't want the procedure but is afraid to tell his father.

Lia Boldt also argued that circumcision was dangerous, a move that drew the attention of national Jewish organizations and an anti-circumcision group based in Seattle.

James Boldt now lives near Olympia. Lia Boldt lives in Jacksonville.

James Boldt has custody of the boy, which he says gives him the right to make religious and medical decisions for his son.

The couple married in the early 1990s and lived in Grants Pass. She filed for divorce in 1998. The child initially lived with his mother, but his father later won custody.

The father started studying Judaism in 1999 and later converted. He said he gradually introduced the boy to Judaism. By 2004, the child wanted to convert, which meant getting circumcised.

The boy had recently turned 9 when his father scheduled the procedure.

The mother went to court. The judge ruled in favor of the father, but ordered him not to circumcise his son until the mother had finished her appeals.

-- Ashbel S. (Tony) Green;


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