Protecting Parents’ Rights from Activist Judges

By August 20, 2010Defense of Family
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A campaign is underway this month to draw attention for the need to act now against potential ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Toward that end, Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) has sponsored S. Res. 519, which currently has 30 co-sponsors. By signing S. Res. 519, these Senators have publicly stated their opposition to ratification of the UNCRC.

“If the government or the international community can tell you how to raise your children here in America,” DeMint asks, “is there anything that’s off limits?”

Just four more Senators – thirty-four total – are needed to block ratification of the treaty during this session of Congress. Supporters of the resolution say it is important to secure the remaining co-sponsors to prevent the treaty from being rushed through a lame duck Senate should voters break the current liberal stranglehold on the federal government.

Nations that have ratified the treaty have seen a marked loss of parental rights, as have U.S. citizens when activist judges cite the UNCRC and international law in their rulings.

In New Zealand, a 16-year-old girl ran away from home, and the parents were trying to find her. The police knew where she was, but they couldn’t tell the parents because of the “privacy rights of children.”

Here in the United States, parents can be cut out of their teenager’s health care decisions when it comes to the results of drug testing, treatment of STDs, abortion decisions, or other medical procedures minors might wish to hide from parents. This violation of parental rights is due to federal HIPAA privacy regulations.

There are also cases where children have been taken from homes for no apparent reason, placed in foster homes – and even up for adoption – without authorities ever bringing any charges of abuse or neglect against the parents. In Britain, which has ratified the UNCRC, these situations are no longer rare.

Michael Farris, president of and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said that along with eliminating the need to prove abuse or neglect on the part of a parent, the UNCRC bans corporal punishment and can interfere in a family’s religious decisions.

Homeschooling has also been placed in jeopardy in England due to the UNCRC. A government report recommends that the state should have the authority to choose the curriculum for homeschoolers, and the report’s author used Britain’s treaty obligations under the UNCRC to justify this intrusion.

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Florida law allowing life sentences for juveniles because it violated the UNCRC. In the 2005 Roper v. Simmons decision, the high court also cited the UNCRC in banning the imposition of the death penalty against juvenile murderers.

Farris says that the legal standard for parental rights in the United States has been eroded over the past century, and adoption of the tenets of the UNCRC by liberal activist judges has escalated the attacks. U.S. ratification of the UNCRC, which is supported by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, however, would unravel the parent-child dynamic as we know it, inserting the government’s decision-making over that of parents at every turn.

“The basic rule is this: that the government would have the ability to come in and overturn a parental decision any time that it thought that the best interests of the child would require it,” Farris told “So, if the government thinks that it can make a better decision than the parents made, then it can throw out the parent’s decision and override it.”

Some child services agencies have already removed children from homes when there was no proof of wrong-doing on the part of the parents, and some lower courts have granted custody to non-relative third parties.

In October 2009, the Montana Supreme Court granted parental rights to a non-relative third party in Kulstad v. Maniaci, DA 08-0483 2009 MT 326 (2009), noting a “bonded, dependent relationship parental in nature” between the third party and the children. This case opens the door for similar judgments against parents on a case-by-case basis, even when parents have not been deemed unfit.

Securing the necessary co-sponsors for S. Res. 519 is the first step, signaling the administration and Senate leadership that ratification of UNCRC is highly unlikely in the current Senate. But, seeing the continuous eroding of parental rights in our courts, Farris says there is only one permanent solution. “The only way to secure parental rights is to put those rights into the text of the U.S. Constitution, giving them the same protection we already give to the freedoms of speech and religion,” he said.

“If Americans don’t have the right to raise their children as they see fit,” adds DeMint, “then what rights do you have?”

The Parental Rights Amendment has been introduced in the U.S. House as H.J. Res. 42 and in the U.S. Senate as S.J. Res.16. For more information on the Parental Rights Amendment and S. Res. 519, and to help stop the ratification of UNCRC, visit

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