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Racial bias overruled in child-custody cases

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Wednesday that courts may not consider the effects of racial prejudice when making decisions in child-custody cases. The decision came in a case from Florida, where courts ordered a white woman to relinquish custody of her six-year-old daughter after she married a black man.

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''It would ignore reality to suggest that racial and ethnic prejudices do not exist or that all manifestations of those prejudices have been eliminated,'' Chief Justice Warren E. Burger wrote for the court.

But, he added, ''The effects of racial prejudice, however real, cannot justify a racial classification removing an infant child from the custody of its natural mother found to be an appropriate person to have such custody.