Overall, the ruling appears to bode well for efforts by Juan Miguel Gonzalez and the U.S. government to overturn the Miami relatives' bid for asylum for Elian against his father's wishes. "It would certainly have been very unusual for the court to rule against the father on the guardian issue because the law presumes that a person's parent is their guardian, and doesn't appoint outside guardians in the normal course of events," says TIME legal correspondent Adam Cohen. "For the court to appoint a third-party guardian it would usually need an indication that something was badly wrong in the parent-child relationship, such as abuse."
The Miami relatives now appear to have been shut out on any legal claim for access to Elian, and the government-appointed psychologist has recommended that they be kept away from the boy in their current state of anger. The only of Lazaro Gonzalez's requests that was upheld was a ruling forbidding Elian from being taken to places that enjoy diplomatic immunity, which is an extension of the court's previous order that he not be removed from the U.S. The Miami relatives also failed to persuade the court that no Cuban medical or mental health personnel should have access to the child, an attempt to counteract the father's efforts to create a Cuban environment by bringing in Elian's former kindergarten teacher and a 10-year-old cousin. Four more playmates; a parent for each and a pediatrician arrived in Washington Thursday to join Elian's family in Maryland. "The court would have found it difficult to rule that Elian could not be examined by mental health professionals from his own country," says Cohen. "While the Miami relatives are strongly anti-Cuba, Elian's father is not, and in the end it's likely that the court will give him the ultimate say in what happens to his son."