What Can a Kid Decide?

A surprising 11th Circuit Court ruling raises questions about the rights of young children

The story of Elian Gonzalez will leave in its wake not just bitter excitement but also one of the more hard-to-figure court decisions of recent years. In a federal appeals panel ruling last week that no one could remove Elian from the U.S. before a May 11 hearing in the same court, the judges appeared to portend a new issue, seeming to claim an unexpected new right for six-year-olds to press their cases.

Throughout the Elian drama, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has held that only the boy's father has the legal right to speak for him and that a boy...

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