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The Oregon Supreme Court will test the bounds of religious rights for a custodial parent in November when it considers the right of a father to have his 12-year-old son circumcised over the mother’s objection. The bitter custody battle between a Russian Orthodox mother and the father, who is a recent convert to Judaism, has grown into a dispute over the rights of the noncustodial mother to block the father’s plan to have his son circumcised. The case poses questions of whether some religious decisions should be subject to special hearings for a noncustodial parent who objects and the due process rights of the child. It has attracted the attention of religious groups and those opposed to male circumcision. James Boldt, a lawyer in Olympia, Wash., and convert to Judaism, planned to have his son circumcised in 2004, at age 9, but his ex-wife, Lia Boldt, objected and won an injunction barring the procedure until the disputed rights were resolved. Boldt v. Boldt, No. S054714. Lia Boldt was granted the highly unusual hearing in the Oregon high court after an appeals court, without a hearing, provided that the custodial parent had the final right to authorize circumcision. Both the American Jewish Congress and Doctors Opposing Circumcision have entered the fray with amicus briefs for opposing parents. “Noncustodial parents have rights, too,” said attorney John V. Geisheker, executive director of Doctors Opposing Circumcision in Seattle. “There is a difference in taking a child to temple or church and having parts of their body cut off,” he said. There is a due process question in denying a hearing to the parent and child, Geisheker said. The American Jewish Congress takes the position that the father should have been allowed to proceed with a circumcision in 2004 when he first sought it. “We think that a rule that a custodial parent can make secular decisions but religious decisions have to be put off for hearing raises constitutional questions of the highest order,” said Marc Stern, general counsel for the American Jewish Congress in New York. Clayton Patrick, a Portland, Ore., solo practitioner for Lia Boldt, declined to comment on the appeal. James Boldt, who is representing himself, did not return messages requesting comment. In his brief, Boldt pointed out there is no reported case of a state or federal court prohibiting a custodial parent from having a minor son circumcised. Patrick argued in court papers that the son “should be afforded � at the very least � a due process hearing at which neutral fact-finding may determine his own wishes and whether circumcision is in the best interests of the child. “The court cannot determine what is in the best interests of the child without first conducting an evidentiary hearing, he wrote. Custody has changed hands between mother and father since their divorce in 1998, but has been with the father through the appeal. In Oregon, a child’s consent for a medical procedure is not required until age 15.

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