A North Carolina mother says she was kicked out of a courtroom for breastfeeding her 3-month-old baby, according to a report.
WRAL reported that Danielle Bell was in court for traffic tickets last month and was breastfeeding her baby, who was in a baby sling. According to the local news station, a bailiff asked her to leave, citing a rule that no children under 12 were allowed in the courtroom.
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"I felt discriminated against," she told WRAL. "This is the way she survives -- by breastfeeding -- because she refuses a bottle."
Bell said she left her daughter, named Penelope, with her father outside the courtroom when she was asked to leave. She came back to the courtroom and, once her case was called, she explained to District Court Judge Resson Faircloth why she needed to have her daughter with her. According to Bell, Faircloth told her not to bring the baby back in. Bell said she told Faircloth that Penelope was unable to eat if she left her at home.
“He then replied to me that was not his problem and that, if I had any other excuse, he was going to take her that day and have me put in contempt,” Bell said.
“That’s when I walked out of the courtroom crying,” she said. “I definitely have fear of going back to the courthouse. I am worried about the consequences that will happen.”
The rule forbidding children under 12 in the courtroom is meant to keep disruption to a minimum and to keep children from hearing things that may not be appropriate for them, according to other judges in the state, WRAL reported. Enforcement of the rule is at the discretion of the judge.
Faircloth declined to comment on Bell’s claims to WRAL, as did Johnston County Chief District Judge Jackie Lee.
Bell is due back in court May 20.