A Supreme Court ruling that could reunite a New Jersey father with his young son after a five-year custody battle was delayed for a day by the chief justice, an official said Monday.
An official at the Supreme Court said the ruling by Chief Justice Gilmar Mendes, which had been expected Monday, would be made Tuesday.
The official, who agreed to discuss the matter only if not quoted by name because she was not authorized to discuss the case, gave no reason for the delay.
The wait was agonizing for David Goldman, who has pledged to fight for his son Sean as long as it takes.
"I remain hopeful and I pray that this will come to an end," Goldman told NBC's "TODAY" show on Monday.
Mendes will rule on appeals made by Goldman and Brazil's attorney general seeking to lift a stay on a lower court's order that Sean be handed over to his father.
If Mendes lifts the stay, lawyers in both camps said Sean's Brazilian relatives could still appeal to the nation's highest appeals court — but it was questionable whether that court would be willing to review the case if the Supreme Court backs a lower federal court ruling awarding custody to Goldman.
New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith, in Brazil to support Goldman, expressed optimism ahead of the ruling.
"I think it is only a matter of 'when' and not 'if,' and we are hoping that the abductors will convey this young boy ... as soon as the chief justice renders his decision," the Republican congressman said.
Goldman, 42, launched his case in U.S. and Brazilian courts after Sean was brought by his mother in 2004 to her native Brazil, where she then divorced Goldman and remarried. She died last year in childbirth, and the boy has lived with his stepfather since.
The lawyer for the boy's Brazilian family offered to negotiate a settlement, and the family also invited Goldman to spend Christmas with them. Goldman did not say whether he would accept the invitation if the case was not resolved this week.
Asked if Sean's Brazilian family would be able to visit the boy, Goldman said yes. "I will not do to them what they've done to Sean and me," he said.
Senator blocks trade deal
The case has affected diplomatic ties between Brazil and the U.S., reaching talks between President Barack Obama and his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. A U.S. senator, reacting to the case, has blocked the renewal of a $2.75 billion trade deal that would lift tariffs on some Brazilian exports.
The U.S. State Department pressed for the boy to be returned. But a Brazilian Supreme Court justice on Thursday stayed a lower court decision ordering Sean to be turned over to his father.
Goldman and Brazil's attorney general both filed appeals Friday asking the Supreme Court to overturn the justice's decision to block Sean's return while the court considers hearing direct testimony from the boy.
The Brazilian family's lawyer, Sergio Tostes, told the AP he would like to see a negotiated settlement, saying he wanted to end the damage being done to Sean and to U.S.-Brazil relations.
"We're raising the white flag and saying: 'Let's get together, let's talk. We're the adults, we have responsibilities, so let's start to have a constructive conversation,'" Tostes said.
Goldman, however, was in no mood to negotiate.
"This isn't about a shared custody — I'm his dad, I'm his only parent," Goldman said. "This isn't a custody case — it's an abduction case."