Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Parental Rights Amendment Introduced - Bad Idea

I wrote about this before.

But here's a warning to parents: A Constitutional amendment purporting to protect the rights of parents actually could erode the rights of parents even further. (Full text of NHELD's statement is here - below are some excerpts)
At the behest of homeschool organization (HSLDA), Congressman Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, once again, has introduced a bill that would amend the United States Constitution, ostensibly to protect the right of parents.

It is called H.J.RES.42 - Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to parental rights, and can be found at Govtrack and Thomas

Congressman Hoekstra has been told by HSLDA that if such a Constitutional amendment were adopted, it would protect the rights of parents. On his website, Congressman Hoekstra has a video in which the Congressman explains that he thinks parents should have a choice in how they educate and medicate their children, and that the Constitutional amendment also would provide protection against some of the provisions in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Congressman Hoekstra says that the Constitutional amendment would protect the rights of parents, except, of course, when a parent is abusive or neglectful, and in that case, the government would have the right to intervene on behalf of the child.

All of that sounds well and good, but the Congressman apparently has not thought things through to consider the ramifications of such a Constitutional amendment and its negative effect on the rights of parents.


If you make the rights of parents a federal Constitutional right, the federal government has an obligation to “protect” that right. The way that the federal government “protects” that right is through implementation of federal statutes and federal agency regulation. And let’s not forget, that when there is any dispute involving those federal statutes and regulations, the federal courts will be used to resolve those disputes by “interpreting” the meaning of the Constitutional amendment.

Now, imagine this: Imagine having to stem the abuse of authority on the part of a federal Department of Children and Families. Imagine just having a federal Department of Children and Families. Imagine having yet another federal governmental agency, this time, established to review parental decisions and to implement and enforce new federal legislation involving the rights of parents. Imagine having to try to change any of those federal statutes or regulations. Imagine trying to stop a federal bureaucracy from overstepping its bounds and intruding on the rights of parents. Is that really what you want?

That’s not even the worst of it. When disputes arise, and arise they will, those disputes will involve the United States Constitution and federal laws. Who will resolve those disputes? The federal courts will. You will have federal district courts and the Supreme Court “interpreting” the meaning of the Constitutional amendment and all the federal statutes and regulations that will be generated by its implementation. The federal courts will use a standard, one that is placed in the proposed Constitutional amendment itself, to review the facts involving the dispute. That standard of review is called “strict scrutiny”. That means that the federal government is only allowed to restrict fundamental rights protected by the Constitution if the federal government has a compelling governmental reason for the restriction. What is a “compelling” government reason? Whatever the court decides it is.

It is possible that the courts could decide that the federal government has a “compelling” interest in restricting the rights of parents to allow children to be educated in diverse curricula, religious or spiritual cultures of other nations, or in matters involving reproductive freedom, to name just a few issues. It is possible that courts could decide that the federal government has a “compelling” interest in restricting the rights of parents to allow children to obtain vaccines, to receive medications for depression, and to have therapeutic abortions, with or without parental consent. It is possible that the federal courts could decide that the federal government has a “compelling” interest in restricting the rights of parents to choose the form of education for their child, particularly when federal taxpayer dollars are used to pay for any part of that education or educational benefit. It is also possible that the federal courts could decide that the federal government has a “compelling” interest in ensuring that children are educated in accordance with the principles enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, even though it has not been ratified yet.

Right now, however, issues of whether the government should intrude in the rights of parents are resolved on the state level, not on the federal level, and appropriately so. The states have that authority, and have had that authority, since the adoption of the Constitution in 1787. When the authority remains at the state level, parents are more readily able to effectuate change in intrusive legislation and regulation.

More importantly, parental rights already are protected from intrusion by the federal government. A Constitutional amendment, however, well-meaning, in the long run will have consequences that are exactly opposite to the goals intended. A Constitutional amendment will only add another layer of bureaucracy, and grant additional power to the federal government that it does not have, to further restrict the rights of parents in untold and unimaginable ways.

No, we don't need a Parental Rights Amendment! - we just need the US Senate to reject the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC). Period.

60 people in our Senate can just say NO to the CRC. (Contact them and tell them to reject the CRC treaty which is not yet ratified by them)

No Treaty - No Problems.
No Parental Rights Amendment.


Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Thanks for posting about this.
I am getting on the phone now.

I was wary when I heard about this idea, and I am more so now.

Anonymous said...

I'm somewhat torn on this. On the one hand, I can appreciate Farris' proactive strategy in wanting to get the PRA done before the senate can ratify this monstrosity. Given the current domination of Congress by Democrats, it seems more likely now than ever. On the other hand, I am strongly sympathetic with NHELD's position on not wanting to federalize parenting, as well as the likelihood of federal meddling as a consequence of a PRA. So it seems to me that we either forgo a PRA and run a very real risk of suddenly finding ourselves subject to the U.N.'s ideas of what constitutes good parenting, or we do it and quite possibly end up with federal courts messing with families anyway, while even referencing the CRC in their decisions. Perhaps we're damned if we do, damned if we don't. Of course, the real problem here is the gradual takeover of our higher educational institutions (especially law schools) by various globalist lefties.

Finally, if the UNCRC does get ratified, I can just imagine the effect on the boondoggle that is our family court system. Any conscientious parents (especially homeschoolers) had better pray that divorce is not in their future.


JK86 said...

One important note about this is that the Parental Rights Amendment does NOT federalize parents' rights. It simply does not follow that we are creating a change in policy by merely enumerating a right (which, according the PRA wording, is a restriction on federal power). We are not obligating the federal government to protect parent's right with legislation--we are obligating the courts to uphold parental rights when bad legislation is made.

The recent Supreme Court ruling on the D.C. gun ban is a perfect example. They held, "The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia...." Clearly, without the amendment the court would have had no such recourse.

Finally, a Constitutional amendment is the most appropriate way to secure those precious rights we consider the most fundamental. The Declaration of Independence says that men are endowed "with certain unalienable rights," and then, "to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men." The Parental Rights Amendment is part of what it means to institute government for the security of our rights.