Corey Curtis, 44, is a Wisconsin man who is the subject of a novel court order. Racine County Circuit Court Judge Tim Boyle ordered Curtis to stop having children after he sired nine children and is already $100,000 in arrears for child support. Six different women had children with Curtis who said that he will now agree to stop producing children.
The judge lamented that he could not order Curtis sterilized, but he did have support under state law to order him to stop having children until he can show he can support them. A controversial 2001 Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling upheld the power of a judge to order a defendant, as a condition of probation, to not procreate again unless he can show he can financially support the child.
The earlier case was State v. Oakley, No. 99-3328-CR (Wis. July 20, 2001) which just happened to involve a man with the same number of children. David Oakley was convicted of refusing to pay court-ordered support for seven of his nine children. A sharply divided Wisconsin Supreme Court voted 4-3 to uphold the ban of procreation over Oakley’s objections. The court found his conduct to constitute “ongoing victimization of his children” and a “disregard for the law.” The court noted that the alternative to the ban would have been a six-year prison sentence which would have had the same effect. The dissenting justices cited the fundamental “right to have children is a basic human right and an aspect of the fundamental liberty which the Constitution jealously guards for all Americans,.” This right is recognized by the Supreme Court in Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942). The dissent noted that “unless he wins the lottery, he will likely never be able to” meet the probation conditions and have additional children.
In the current case, defense attorney Robert Peterson objected to the probation condition. For his part, Curtis (who has shown no sense of personal restraint or responsibility) dismissed the order as a judge acting without thinking: “Judges, they make rulings,” Curtis said, “they make them kind of hastily. So, if that’s what he feels one of my conditions should be then I’m going to abide by it.” That is good of him.
The question is whether it is appropriate for court’s to order a person not to procreate or whether the court should confine its orders to sending people to jail when they fail to support their children. What do you think?