Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act

Prof. Stephen Baskerville has been an excellent advocate of parents rights. His recent essays are Strengthening Marriage Through Divorce and Custody Reform and The Fatherhood Crisis: Time for a New Look?.

Now he is pushing for a new federal law called the Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act (PRRA) of 2005. He says:
The Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act affirms that parents’ rights to direct the upbringing of their children are fundamental rights which the government can curtail only under conditions of “compelling interest.” It stipulates that “No federal, state, or local government, or any official of such a government acting under color of law, shall interfere with or usurp the right of a parent to direct the upbringing of the child of the parent.”
A similar bill was introduced in 1996, except that I think that proposal excluded the rights of noncustodial fathers. It was strenuously opposed by leftist lobbying groups like the ACLU and People For the American Way, and the Nat. Org. of Women.

Actually, the US Supreme Court has always held that parents have a fundamental constitutional right to control the upbringing of their children. Here is a good summary of decisions:
The Supreme Court of the United States has traditionally and continuously upheld the principle that parents have the fundamental right to direct the education and upbringing of their children. A review of cases taking up the issue shows that the Supreme Court has unwaveringly given parental rights the highest respect and protection possible. What follows are some of the examples of the Court’s past protection of parental rights.

In Meyer v. Nebraska,1 the Court invalidated a state law which prohibited foreign language instruction for school children because the law did not “promote” education but rather “arbitrarily and unreasonably” interfered with “the natural duty of the parent to give his children education suitable to their station in life...” 2 The court chastened the legislature for attempting “materially to interfere… with the power of parents to control the education of their own.” 3 This decision clearly affirmed that the Constitution protects the preferences of the parent in education over those of the State. In the same decision, the Supreme Court also recognized that the right of the parents to delegate their authority to a teacher in order to instruct their children was protected within the liberty of the Fourteenth Amendment. 4
I don't think that Baskerville's new PRRA has a Congressional sponsor yet. I'm trying to find more info about it.

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