December 8, 2021

The Domestic Threats to Parental Rights

Parental Rights face an ever-increasing number of threats in the United States today. Whether through unfriendly court decisions, UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, often-abused federal laws, or over-federalization, the fundamental liberty of parents to make decisions for their child’s best interest is in danger.

Confusion in the Courts about Parental Rights

The Federal courts are full of confusion when it comes to parental rights, especially after the Supreme Court’s Troxel v. Granville decision in 2000, which left no clear standard for future cases. With six different written opinions, Troxel indicates an uncertain status of parental rights with an all-too-certain conclusion: parental rights are vulnerable and inadequately protected from government intrusion.

Some Federal and State cases that have since been affected by Troxel’s unclear decision include:

• Dutkiewicz v. Dutkiewicz (2008): the Supreme Court of Connecticut used Troxel to support the fundamental nature of parental rights, but noted that matters need to be decided on a case-by-case basis based on Justice Kennedy’s dissent.

• Frazier ex rel. Frazier v. Winn (2008): a court in the 11th Circuit weighed the child’s right to religious freedom against the parent’s right to direct his upbringing and education.

• Mayberry v. Independent School Dist. No. 1 of Tulsa County, Okla (2008): the District Court in Oklahoma ruled that parents did not have the right to be on public school property while children were in attendance. For many examples of how Troxel has left a confusing precedent in the state and federal courts, read the full article by Dr. Michael Farris here, or read the Troxel decision here.

The Overapplication of Federal Law

Federal laws like the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA) or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) were intended for good, to enact privacy regulations preventing third parties from accessing educational or medical records. But they include ambiguities with a lot of room for interpretation. As a result, both of these pieces of legislation have been interpreted in ways that shut parents out of their children’s lives by denying them access to important information about their children. For more about FERPA and HIPAA and some of their interpretations, click here.

Federalization

The threat to parental rights does not end with vague federal law or confusing court precedents; there are other problems that lessen the power given to parents in protecting and raising their children. For example, there has been the disturbing trend of federalization in almost every area of government.

One such example of federalization in education is the Race to the Top Fund, a federal program in which states compete for millions of dollars in education funding. To be considered for the funding, states have to submit applications detailing how they are implementing federal standards of curriculum content, classroom structure, and more. The parents have less input about their child’s education through the local school boards, while the federal government determines what every child needs to learn — all the while dangling the carrot of federal funding over the heads of state and local governments. For more on the Race to the Top Fund and other federalizing trends, click here.

Increased Privacy at the Local Level

With the focus on privacy at the federal level, many states are applying a so-called “child’s right to privacy” when it comes to library records. With regulations that prevent parents from viewing the books that their child has checked out, some libraries have even asked a parent to pay a child’s late fee — but refused to specify the book title for the sake of privacy. For more on state library policies, click here.

The Solution

As the government gets bigger and handles more concerns of our everyday lives, parents may find themselves and their opinions being squeezed out of their children’s lives. Here in America, the role previously left to parents is being usurped by faceless bureaucrats.

How do we protect a right fundamental to American society? By placing it into the Constitution, the law of the land, we can help prevent the spread of federal power in the area of the family and ensure that parental rights are protected with the strength and certainty they deserve. The Parental Rights Amendment is written in a way that will address these domestic threats by making this message clear: parents’ fundamental rights will be protected, and no level of government can block parents out of their children’s lives.

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RELATED

The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is back on the table in the U.S. Senate, defying all logic and reason. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has vowed to vote on it before the committee this summer, and to follow that with a vote in the full Senate.

Menendez’s announcement came on the heels of the Supreme Court’s recent Bond decision, despite the fact that the ruling only served to highlight the danger of ratifying treaties that seek to dictate American domestic policy. Menendez, who perhaps had not read the ruling when he issued his statement, blithely claimed the opposite.

This only serves to demonstrate that treaty proponents will use any excuse – even a false one – to push this treaty down America’s throat.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, often called the CRC or the UNCRC, is an international convention seeking to establish “civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights [for] children.” After ratifying or acceding to it, nations are bound to the CRC by international law.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

This treaty poses a serious threat both to parental rights and to U.S. sovereignty, as the UNCRC dictates not only that the federal government must intrude into the family sphere to an unprecedented degree, but also how the federal government is to monitor and govern the actions of our families.  Parental rights would be replaced by “the best interests of the child” as defined, ultimately, by an international committee of 18 people in Switzerland.


Some facts about the Convention:

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, often called the CRC or the UNCRC, is an international convention seeking to establish “civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights [for] children.” After ratifying or acceding to it, nations are bound to the CRC by international law. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, consisting of 18 members from countries around the world, monitors compliance.

Nations which have ratified the UNCRC must make an initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child within two years of ratification. They must then report to and appear before the committee every five years to measure their progress on implementation of the Convention. The committee responds to the country reports with observations and suggestions for continued implementation of the CRC.

In addition, the Committee periodically releases “General Comments” to clarify their own interpretation of articles of the Convention. In these they assert that the Convention “must be regarded as a living instrument, whose interpretation develops over time.” In this way, the Committee asserts that its interpretation should be binding on state parties to the Convention, regardless of the nation’s understanding of the Convention at the time that they acceded to it.

The Convention was adopted and opened for signature on November 20, 1989, by the United Nations General Assembly. After being ratified by the required 20 nations, it came into force on September 2, 1990. As of November 2009, 194 countries have ratified it. Out of the members of the United Nations, only Somalia and the United States of America have not ratified it.

On May 25, 2000, two optional protocols were adopted, each of which has been ratified by over 120 states. The first restricts the involvement of children in military conflicts. The second bans the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography. It is significant to note that the United States has ratified both of these protocols, so ratification of the full CRC will have no positive impact in these areas of concern.

 

A summary of the proposed parental rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution follows:

 

PROPOSED PARENTAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

SECTION 1
The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children is a fundamental right.

SECTION 2

The parental right to direct education includes the right to choose public, private, religious, or home schools, and the right to make reasonable choices within public schools for one’s child.

SECTION 3

Neither the United States nor any state shall infringe these rights without demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served.

SECTION 4

This article shall not be construed to apply to a parental action or decision that would end life.

SECTION 5

No treaty may be adopted nor shall any source of international law be employed to supersede, modify, interpret, or apply to the rights guaranteed by this article.

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