(No. 3:14-cv-1959, Jude Haynes/Bryant, United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division)

ACLU-TN Cooperating Attorneys: Carolyn W. Schott and Amy R. Mohan, Sherrard & Roe, PLC

Plaintiffs: Carl Scott Abramson and Kimberly Marie Sarubbi

Defendants: John J. Dreyzehner, Commissioner Tennessee Department of Health; Teresa S. Hendricks, Director of the Tennessee Office of Vital Records

When Kimberly Sarubbi and Dr. Carl Abramson’s third child was born in Tennessee in 2014, the Tennessee Department of Health denied their request to give him the surname “Sabr,” a combination of their last names.

Instead, the state issued a birth certificate for the child with the last name “Abramson,” despite the fact that the married couple had used the surname for their first two children, both born in other states.

On October 9, 2014, ACLU-TN filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the family to protect the parents’ First Amendment right to name their own children. The plaintiffs also sought an order from the court declaring the state law that requires that children’s surnames be entered on their birth certificates as either the natural father’s surname or a combination of the natural father’s surname in combination with either the mother’s surname or maiden name be declared unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

The Tennessee Department of Health ultimately agreed to settle the lawsuit and the Tennessee Office of Vital Records issued a birth certificate for the child that includes the last name “Sabr,” as the Sabr family had requested at the time of the child’s birth.

Related Documents

Press Releases

ACLU-TN Wins Parents’ Right to Name Child (April 24, 2015)

ACLU-TN Lawsuit Protects Parents’ Right to Name Their Children (October 9, 2014)

Legal Documents

Abramson et. al. v. Dreyzehner et. al. - Order (April 27, 2015)

Notice of Voluntary Dismissal with Prejudice (April 23, 2015)

Abramson et. al. v. Dreyzehner et. al. - Amended Complaint (December 16, 2014)