Editor’s Note: This post was written years ago when this amendment was new, last updated 2012. Today, I came across a story that reminded me how dangerous it would be to give government agents legalized authority over our children. Here’s the completely bizarre aspect: the so-called “parental rights” amendment was written by the well-meaning attorneys at the HSLDA! They and I have emailed back and forth on the topic many times. They contend this amendment doesn’t give the state additional authority. I wholeheartedly disagree!!! Having witnessed and been the victim of state abuse, I can testify to the depths to which a government agent will go to assert power over a citizen. I am not alone. This amendment is terribly, terribly flawed. Not to mention unnecessary.
You gotta admire the quick thinkers who name bills and Constitutional amendments. Take the so-called Parental Rights constitutional amendment. The name is actually completely reversed from what it is!
Following is the original proposed wording. The amendment has been rewritten many times over the years and the current wording is at the bottom of this post, some of it very different from the original. However, the offending passage in Section 2 (Section 3 in the newest version at bottom) remains!
The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right. [<<< Truth! The amendment could end right here!]
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. [Trouble, explained below.]
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. [<<< Ok, we can keep this, too.]
At first glance, it sounds pretty good. In fact, I signed the petition endorsing it before I fully comprehended what it actually says in Section 2.
The truth is that this amendment will actually be the end of parental rights.
Section 2 actually subjugates parents’ rights to a governmental interest!
“Neither the United States nor any state shall infringe upon this right without demonstrating that its governmental interest … is of the highest order and not otherwise served.”
IOW, parents have the fundamental right UNTIL some government agency demonstrates its interest is of “the highest order”.
IOW, you have rights UNTIL a government agency demonstrates its interest is HIGHER THAN YOURS.
A judge can do that without breaking a sweat. The bang of a gavel and your kids are gone.
Everyone who trusts that its government will use this constitutional authority wisely and without prejudice, raise your hand.
There are already laws against doing harm to another human being, big or little. You can already lose parental rights if you harm your child. And, even then, there is more and more wiggle room in interpreting what constitutes harm!
Here’s the bottom line about rights: they can’t be given nor can they be taken away. You have them by virtue of your humanity. You are born with them. Government agents can DENY these rights using their monopoly on the use of force — this happens every single day to thousands of human beings. But they cannot take your rights away nor grant them to you.
We parents already have the natural-born rights to raise our children as we see fit! And because “parenting” is not one of the federal government’s 17 enumerated authorities, we parents have the constitutional authority as well.
What this amendment will do is give constitutional authority to judges to infringe upon our God-given parental rights.
This amendment will make it legal for the state to take away your child if
- your child is fat
- you don’t fully vaccinate according to the state’s schedule
- your child is homeschooled and the state disagrees with your methods or timing
- your child brings inappropriate foods for lunch
- you choose alternative medicine for your child
The list of offenses for which parents have already lost their children is long. The HSLDA attorneys say this amendment will protect children from arbitrary takings. I contend it will make it easier.
(And by the way, we already have constitutional protection from arbitrary laws. Judges routinely ignore those, too.)
The state is behaving badly NOW. Do we really want to permanently legalize its authority over our children?
The name of this amendment is misleading. It’s a lie, however unintentional. DON’T SIGN IT AND SPREAD THE WORD!
QUESTION to the HSLDA Attorneys: Thousands of people signed the petition endorsing the original wording. Every time the Amendment is changed, shouldn’t you dispose of the signatures and start over?
This is the current “Parental Rights” Amendment as of today 12/28/17:
The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children is a fundamental right.
The parental right to direct education includes the right to choose, as an alternative to public education, private, religious, or home schools, and the right to make reasonable choices within public schools for one’s child.
Neither the United States nor any State shall infringe these rights without demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served. [emphasis mine]
The parental rights guaranteed by this article shall not be denied or abridged on account of disability.
This article shall not be construed to apply to a parental action or decision that would end life. [I assume they mean murder but this can also be about medical decisions.]
Notice that the old SECTION 3 is missing, that addressing international law. This was the main reason the amendment came about in the first place. I guess we don’t have to worry about the international police anymore.
Find the amendment here: https://parentalrights.org/amendment/