Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Parental Rights Amendment

The Homeschool community has had much debate and discussion about the proposed Parental Rights Amendment being pushed by Michael Farris and HSLDA as a way to protect parents, specifically homeschoolers, from the encroachment of United Nations initiatives to dictate how children should be raised - that being in the form of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and issues stemming from problems parents and homeschoolers have had in the EU. As far as I am concerned, both the PRA and the CRC are horrible pieces of legislation. Both should be avoided entirely. Thankfully, the US has not yet ratified participation in the CRC, and I hope that we never do. These treaties do nothing more then erode our sovereignty.

The issue has been discussed in a bulletin put out by National Home Education Legal Defense (of which I serve as Research Director). NHELD has also put out a series of three bulletins which discusses the UN Convention. ( #54, #55, #56 )

Essentially the Parental Rights Amendment to the US Constitution would say this:
Section 1. The God-given right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right which may not be abridged by the United States or any state.

Section 2. The balancing test applicable to other fundamental rights may be used to balance a claim of parental rights provided that the government establishes its interest by proper evidence in each case.
Sounds good right? Well, not entirely, as the bulletin by NHELD points out.
While NHELD abhors any action by those in power to allow the United Nations or any international entity to install its authority above our United States Constitution, NHELD does not believe that the way to stop that encroachment on parental rights is by a constitutional amendment.

Reading the Constitution as it is written, the Constitution grants to the federal government limited, enumerated powers. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution specifies that all powers not so specifically enumerated as granted to the federal government, remain powers of the people and of the states.

Education is not an enumerated power granted to the federal government.(even though they act like it is!)

The ability to regulate the rights of parents is not an enumerated power granted to the federal government.

Those are powers that remain powers of the people and of the states.

Making the “rights of parents” fundamental rights in the U.S. Constitution raises those rights to the federal level. The federal government then is better able to assume a power to regulate those rights. The Supreme Court already has “interpreted” the right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children as something that can be regulated by government. Up until now, however, the courts have said that it is up to the States to regulate that right. With a constitutional amendment, the road is cleared for the courts to say that the federal government also has the right to regulate.

It is far easier to affect legislation on a state and local level than it is to affect legislation on the federal level. Some states even have elected judges so that if the state courts interpret a state regulation in a manner opposed by the people, the people can elect new judges that may “interpret” the regulations differently. Federal judges are appointed, and they are appointed for life.

Yes, we, as parents and as Americans, are facing a battle. Yes, we must fight that battle. Let’s fight the battle where we can be most effective. Let’s keep the power in the states. Let’s encourage each of our legislators to uphold the Constitution as it is. Let’s educate our government officials and our neighbors about how all of our rights are threatened by the United Nations and international law. Let’s encourage our legislators to appoint federal judges who will not use international law as a basis to decide any court cases. Let’s educate Congress that we will not tolerate anyone disregarding their oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution. Let’s not give the federal government any more ammunition to wrest power from the people. Let’s work to inform other parents about these issues, and embolden them to stop Congress, and the President, from abusing their power whenever they fail to protect and to defend the Constitution.

We need to put a halt to the federalization of parenting as well as the federalization of homeschooling. Advocating for this Parental Rights Amendment is not the way to go to solve this problem.