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Judicial Engineering is a phrase that should become as familiar to Americans as judicial activism, judicial independence, judicial misconduct, and judicial accountability.
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I got a pleasant surprise when I woke up for work one morning last week…
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“We stand for the human rights of mothers, fathers and children.” ~ Our aim is to champion the cause of equal parenting, family law reform and equal contact for divorced parents with children. This is a movement whose members are primarily interested in issues related to family law, including child custody and child support that affect fathers and their children. Members are mostly fathers who desire to share the parenting of their children equally with their children's mother—either after divorce or as unwed fathers, and the children of the terminated marriage. This movement includes women as well as men, often the second wives of divorced fathers or other family members of men who have had some engagement with family law. What is your stance on equal constitutional parental rights for all parents and any needed reforms to the family law system to ensure them? Do you support constitutional parental rights for all? This issue is literally destroying society from within by destroying the family bonds & structure that a civilized nation needs to be strong and survive. No topic could more more important to this country as it effects all Men, women, and children. Fatherlessness is associated with almost every societal ill facing our country’s children. An estimated 24.7 million children (33%) live absent their biological father. We asked Democratic and Republican Primary Candidates ~ How can you address the fatherlessness epidemic? ~ Of students in grades 1 through 12, 39 percent (17.7 million) live in homes absent their biological fathers. ~ 57.6% of black children, 31.2% of Hispanic children, and 20.7% of white children are living absent their biological fathers. ~ According to 72.2 % of the U.S. population, fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America. ~ Among children who were part of the “post-war generation,” 87.7% grew up with two biological parents who were married to each other. ~ Today only 68.1% will spend their entire childhood in an intact family. With the increasing number of premarital births and a continuing high divorce rate, the proportion of children living with just one parent rose from 9.1% in 1960 to 20.7% in 2012. Currently, 55.1% of all black children, 31.1% of all Hispanic children, and 20.7% of all white children are living in single-parent homes. White children born in the 1950-1954 period spent only 8% of their childhood with just one parent; black children spent 22%. Of those born in 1980, by one estimate, white children can be expected to spend 31% of their childhood years with one parent, and black children 59%. You’ve heard about the crisis of fatherlessness and the negative consequences for children and for our society. Even if you are an involved dad, until we are successful, your children and grandchildren will be growing up in a culture of absent fathers and unfathered children. They will be affected! You can be a part of the solution!
In the early 1980s, a landmark parental rights case reached the Washington State Supreme Court. The case involved 13-year-old Sheila Marie Sumey, whose parents were alarmed when they found evidence of their daughter's participation in illegal drug activity and escalating sexual involvement. Their response was to act immediately to cut off the negative influences in their daughter's life by grounding her.
But when Sheila went to her school counselors complaining about her parent's actions, she was advised that she could be liberated from her parents because there was "conflict between parent and child." Listening to the advice she had received, Sheila notified Child Protective Services (CPS) about her situation. She was subsequently removed from her home and placed in foster care.
Her parents, desperate to get their daughter back, challenged the actions of the social workers in court. They lost. Even though the judge found that Sheila's parents had enforced reasonable rules in a proper manner, the state law nevertheless gave CPS the authority to split apart the Sumey family and take Sheila away.1
Parental rights are under attack in our nation, with the first threat originating from within the federal court system. As this story illustrates, a growing disregard for parental rights has been spreading within the courts of our nation.
Across the country, many judges are beginning to deny the vital role of parents in the lives of their children, instead inserting the government into a "parental" role in a child's life. This dangerous assertion is leading to the severance of the child-parent relationship in numerous instances across the nation—removals that cause unnecessary pain to both children and their parents.
A thirteen-year-old boy in Washington State was removed from his parents after he complained to school counselors that his parents took him to church too often. His school counselors had encouraged him to call Child Protective Services with his complaint, which led to his subsequent removal and placement in foster care. It was only after the parents agreed to a judge's requirement of less-frequent church attendance that they were able to recover their son.2
HANGING BY A THREAD
Not all judges hold a low view of parental rights. Some, like Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, believe that parental rights are among the "inalienable rights" of Americans enumerated in the Declaration of Independence but they are finding it increasingly difficult to rule in favor of parental rights when it is not explicitly included in the language of the Constitution.
In Troxel v. Granville, the last major parental rights case heard by the Supreme Court, Scalia himself voted to deny parental rights the status of an enforceable constitutional right. And other federal court judges are following in his footsteps, citing a mounting belief that no right can be protected by the federal courts unless explicitly stated in the Constitution.
The dwindling support for parental rights found on the federal level has opened the door to a growing, blatant disregard of parental rights within the lower courts of our nation. Parental rights violations are on the increase across the country, as courts exchange parental involvement for government control in the lives of America's children.
The right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is hanging by a thread.
A West Virginia mother was shocked when a local circuit judge and a family court judge ordered her to share custody of her four-year-old daughter with two of the girl’s babysitters. Referring to the sitters as "psychological co-parents," the justices first awarded full custody to them, only permitting the mother to visit her daughter four times a week at McDonalds. Eventually she was granted primary custody, but forced to continue to share her daughter with the sitters.
When her case finally reached the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in October 2007, the beleaguered mother was relieved to finally be granted full custody of her daughter.
In their October 25 opinion Supreme Court justices wrote that they were "deeply troubled by the utter disregard" for the mother's rights. One justice referred to the mother’s right as the “paramount right in the world."
Chief Justice Robin Davis summed up the case in one simple question."Why does a natural parent have to prove fitness when she has never been found unfit?" he asked.3
THE THREAT FROM INTERNATIONAL LAW
The precarious state of parental rights within our nation is reason enough for serious concern. With cases like these filling the courts, every parent should be concerned about the protection and preservation of their rights.
But another storm is rapidly forming on the horizon.
International law that seeks to empower the government to intrude upon the child-parent relationship is becoming an increasing threat. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), a seemingly harmless treaty with dangerous implications for American families, is approaching possible ratification by the United States.
If this treaty is made binding upon our country, the government would have the power to intervene in any child's life to advance its definition of "the best interests of the child." The scenarios that could occur—and are occurring—as a result of this dangerous notion are both manifold and frightening.
Under the UNCRC, instead of following due process, government agencies would have the power to override your parental choices at their whim because they determine what is in "the best interest of the child."
In essence, the UNCRC applies the legal status of abusive parents to all parents. This means that the burden of proof falls on the parent to prove to the State that they are good parents—when it should fall upon the State to prove that their investigation is not without cause.
A SHELTER IN THE STORM
There is only one solution to this approaching storm: a constitutional amendment that places current Supreme Court doctrine protecting parental rights into the explicit language of the U.S. Constitution. This amendment will shelter the child-parent relationship from the coming storm, ensuring that parents have the right to direct the upbringing and education of their children.
No government, regardless of how well-intentioned it might be, can replace the love and nurture of a parent in the life of a child. Parents care, not because their children are "wards" for whom they are responsible. Parents are willing to brave danger and sacrifice, hardship and heartache to ensure the best for their kids.
Learn more about protecting parental rights through a constitutional amendment, and join the campaign now. We must not wait until it’s too late. Take this opportunity to sign the petition to protect parental rights today.
1. In Re: Sumey, 94 Wn. 2d 757, 621 P. 2d 108 (1980)
2. This was not a reported decision and personal names are withheld in such cases as a matter of course. Our source for this information was Michael Farris, J.D., who advised the parents relative to this case.
3. In Re: Visitation and Custody of Senturi N.S.V., 221 W.Va. 159, 652 S.E. 2d 490 (2007)
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