ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia's highest court has ruled that five indigent fathers jailed for failing to pay child support cannot file a class action lawsuit against the state for declining to provide them with lawyers.
The 6-1 majority decision written by Justice Keith Blackwell and released Friday says "there is no absolute, inflexible, and categorical right to appointed counsel" for poor parents in such proceedings.
The five fathers challenged a law that lets judges put parents in jail if they can't make child support payments. They said jailing them causes the parents to lose their job, making it harder for them to make the payments.
In a dissent, Justice Robert Benham wrote that the state has fostered a "fundamentally unfair system for collecting child support from indigent parents."
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