ParentalRights.org (a subsidiary of HSLDA) sent out an email that another resolution to amend the Constitution of the United States to protect parental rights was introduced into the House of Representatives by Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Michigan). Search for “H. J. RES. 97” at the Thomas site (the site does not save searches).
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:
`Section 1. The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right.
`Section 2. Neither the United States nor any State shall infringe upon this right without demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served.
`Section 3. 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.’.
It has been 12 years since the first proposed parental rights amendment was introduced.
This latest introduction, according to the ParentalRights.org website’s page, “Threat from Federal Courts,” is needed because of the decision in the Troxel v. Granville ruling. (underlining added)
But despite these strong statements and a favorable outcome, the Troxel case also contains some sobering warnings about the future of parental rights in America.
The vital relationship between child and parent is far too precious to be entrusted to such slender odds, but if we rely on the Supreme Court to guarantee our freedoms, these are precisely the odds we are risking.
This statement stands in opposition to an analysis at the HSLDA website in 2001, soon after the Troxel ruling.
U.S. Supreme Court: Parents’ Rights Are Fundamental: A Review of Troxel v. Granville
On June 5, 2000, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark opinionon parental liberty. The decision was Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000).
The U.S. Supreme Court cited a long history of their decisions upholding parental rights as fundamental.
Parents battling oppressive state regulations and invasions of their families have a clear decision that upholds their parental rights. In essence, this decision means that the government may now not infringe parents’ right to direct the education and upbringing of their children unless it can show that it is using the least restrictive means to achieve a compelling governmental interest.
How odd that the ruling was lauded in 2001, but is now the basis for introducing another Parental Rights Amendment. Given that the first Parental Rights Amendment was introduced in 1995, and Troxel was decided in 2000, why wasn’t it a danger then? Has something happened in the past seven years to change the effect of the decision?
The following are excerpts from previous discussion about parental rights amendments:
Parental Rights Measure Not So Simple, 4 November 1996, The New York Times, New York, New York
”It’s explosive in its ambiguity,” Gov. Roy Romer, a Democrat, said at a news conference in mid-September. ”The only thing certain about it is that it’s going to lead to very expensive lawsuits. This is a full employment bill for lawyers.
Issues Raised by the Parental Rights Initiatives, People for the American Way
Clogging the Courts
The potential for costly, repetitive and unnecessary lawsuits is in itself a cause for concern. Parental rights legislation is often characterized by opponents as a “lawyer’s full-employment act,”59 referring to the endless lawsuits that will result from such vaguely worded legislation. This is not a baseless concern, as even amendment proponents have stated that is their intent. Jeffrey Bell recently stated that the amendment was “meant to be general,” and “meant to be argued out in court.”60 Leah Delay, leader of the Colorado initiative effort, has stated, “If we’re in court for the rest of our lives, thank goodness.” Tom Tancredo, Independence Institute founder and leading parental rights amendment supporter, echoes this: “The reality is that almost everything [in the amendment] will have to be adjudicated.”61 A lawyer for the Georgia-based Southeastern Legal Foundation, involved in that state’s parental rights push, stated “We are out to make bad law in order to provoke legislatures to repeal bad laws.”62
So here we have a membership group staffed preeminently by lawyers sponsoring a bill similar to other bills that have been characterized as a way to provide “full employment for lawyers.” Hmmm.
Other discussions of parental rights amendments and the U. N. Convention on the Rights of the Child are at:
- U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Belgium’s homeschool climate, and the United States Constitution
- NHELD’s bulletins on the U. N. Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Opposition to the Convention on the Rights of the Child
At the entry above, “NHELD’s bulletins on the U. N. Convention …”, the part about “Non-self-executing treaties — think presidential signing statements,” is interesting.
As far as repeat introductions for amendments to change the Constitution of the United States, if this one fails, there will probably be others. I’m reminded of a comment by then-HSLDA lawyer Scott Somerville concerning military enlistment of homeschoolers.
Scott Defisks HoNDA Sect. 10: Military Recruiting
But, speaking for HSLDA again, our 80,000 member families are united in opposition to a “just say no” policy to homeschool recruits. We aren’t going to drop this issue.
I doubt they’ll drop the parental rights issue either.