A Texas appeals court has ruled that the state acted improperly in removing more than 450 minors from the FLDS Church's Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado and placing them in foster care. An attorney for the children's mothers told the Desert News:
CPS was not justified in removing these children. They did not provide any evidence that the children were in danger, and they acted hastily in removing the children.
The story does not include details of the decision, and the paper says "it is unclear if the children will be returned immediately to the ranch or what impact this will have on ongoing status hearings."
Update: CNN has more:
"The existence of the FLDS belief system as described by the department's witnesses, by itself, does not put children of FLDS parents in physical danger," the three-judge panel said.
The state's Department of Family and Protective Services "did not present any evidence of danger to the physical health or safety of any male children or any female children who had not reached puberty," the judges ruled.
According to the ruling, the mothers said the state should have proved that the children's health or safety was in danger; that there was "an urgent need for protection" that required immediately separating the children from their parents; and that the state made "reasonable efforts" to avoid removing the children.
Because no such proof was presented, the mothers argued, the District Court—which backed the department's seizure of the children—"was required to return the children to their parents and abused its discretion by failing to do so."
"The legislature has required that there be evidence to support a finding that there is a danger to the physical health or safety of the children in question and that the need for protection is urgent and warrants immediate removal," the ruling said.
It concluded, "Evidence that children raised in this particular environment may some day have their physical health and safety threatened is not evidence that the danger is imminent enough to warrant invoking the extreme measure of immediate removal prior to full litigation of the issue."
The full opinion is here.