Goldman School of Public Policy - University of California, Berkeley

Pointed Questions at the US Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court heard arguments in the Abbott v. Abbott Hague Convention case involving the taking of a child from Chile to the United States. Below are two sets of questions from Justice Ginsburg and Chief Justice Roberts from the of the Abbott v. Abbott hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court on January 12, 2010. The subsequent Court ruling issued on May 17, 2010, extended custody rights to a larger group of left-behind parents raising issues of child safety to an even more important level in these cases.

Justice Ginsburg: "What happens to the woman who, now she has abducted the child to Texas, and she says to the Texas court: If you send me back, I am going to be beaten by this man who has a history of being a batterer? …You are saying that the court…is helpless, that it's automatic that if there is a custody right the court in the State to which the child has been taken must order that the child be returned?"

Chief Justice Roberts: "In other words, in the case that we have been discussing, if the woman would be subject to whatever persecution or domestic violence, but the child -- you know, there is no suggestion of any harm targeted to the child, that would not be a case in which they could grant refuge?... So the woman would be subject to -- if she wanted to remain with the child, there would be no protection. She would have to choose between subjecting herself to violence or being apart from the child?"

Read the entire transcript and subsequent Abbott decision.

Read the entire amicus brief by DV-LEAP in the Abbott v. Abbott case.