Jacob Sullum

CPS glossed over the lack of evidence by treating the entire 1,700-acre ranch as a single household. If there had been even one instance of abuse in the community, it argued, no child should be left there. This assumption of collective guilt was not only contrary to law; it was contradicted by the state's own witnesses, who conceded that FLDS members, only some of whom practice polygamy, disagree about the appropriate age for marriage.

The first parents to be reunited with their children after the appeals court's ruling, which CPS has asked the Texas Supreme Court to reverse, were Joseph and Lori Jessop, both EMTs in their 20s. The monogamous couple's children -- two boys and a girl, ages 1, 2, and 4 -- became ill during their state-imposed separation and had to be hospitalized.

When they were released, CPS caseworkers forcibly pulled the two older children from their mother. Until a judge intervened, CPS threatened to take the youngest child as well, saying nursing babies older than 12 months were not allowed to remain with their mothers.

Not surprisingly, the Jessops' older children are anxious these days, waking up repeatedly during the night and displaying regressive behavior. There was never any evidence that their parents abused them, but there's plenty that the state did.

Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
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