Messiah Baby Name: Court Overturns Previous Ruling Forbidding Child's Name
A little over a month after being told by a Tennessee judge that her baby's name was inappropriate Jaleesa Martin was celebrating when a court overruled the previous decision and allowed Martin's youngest child to retain the name "Messiah," according to the Associated Press.
Martin and Jawaan McCullough, the child's father, appeared in the courtroom of child support magistrate Lu Ann Ballew in early August in order to determine the baby's last name; Martin wanted to keep the child named Messiah Deshawn Martin while McCullough wanted the baby to have his last name. Ballew ruled in favor of neither parent by saying that the child's name should be Martin DeShawn McCullough, according to the Associated Press.
"The word Messiah is a title and it's a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ," Ballew said in the hearing.
In a hearing on Wednesday Chancellor Telford Forgety Jr. overturned Ballew's decision and charged the lower court with violating the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution by bringing her religious views into the case. Forgety also said that since the two parents had already decided upon the child's first name the only ruling the court could make was in regard to the last name, according to USA Today.
"I was shocked," Martin said. "I never intended on naming my son Messiah because it means God and I didn't think a judge could make me change my baby's name because of her religious beliefs," Martin said.
Despite the original ruling of the court Martin never stopped calling her baby Messiah. Martin's attorney, Kristi Davis, told the Associated Press that she wasn't surprised that the case got so much international attention.
"I think it's truly a recognition by the citizens of our country that when a judge oversteps his or her bounds and infringes on the constitutional rights of the people who come in front of them, it's something that we don't like, and it's something we pay attention to," Davis said.
As for the last name Forgety ruled that the father's name would be used, so the baby is now named Messiah DeShawn McCullough, according to USA Today.
"I'm just happy - I really don't have nothing to say," Martin told reporters. "I'm just glad it's over with."