On Parental Rights, by Attorney Deborah G. Stevenson

On Parental Rights
by Attorney Deborah G. Stevenson

The National Home Education Legal Defense, (NHELD) stands ready to assist you, as that is our primary goal, as well – to protect the right of parents to educate in freedom. The question is: how do we do that?  Whenever we want an answer to questions, today, the first thing we normally do is to search the internet. It is a wonderful resource. It’s also quick and easy. Oftentimes, we get great results – lots of articles with lots of helpful information.  A word of caution is necessary, here, however. Be careful in what you read, and what you believe.

Sometimes what you find out there is not everything that it portends to be. Sometimes, it sounds good, but, in reality, is not. Sometimes, what seems to be a great way to protect your freedom, actually will take more of it away.  Sometimes, what seems like a good idea to do now, in the long run, will be a very bad idea.  In other words, when you find information from anyone, it always is best to do some critical thinking about what you find, and investigate as many facts as you can, before making a reasoned decision as to whether or not to believe it, or act upon it.

Many people are cautious, these days, when it comes to accepting information or advice provided by the government, but perhaps not so many are equally cautious when it comes to accepting information or advice from private individuals or organizations. It’s always a good idea to be cautious, no matter what; but it is of particular importance when those people or organizations say they are there to help you. Knowing all of the facts before simply accepting the word of anyone is always best. Better to know, than to be unaware of potential harms ahead. Let’s look at an example.

If you have done any internet searches about how to protect the rights of parents, you may have come across a seemingly really good website, that has an entire Board of people who believe the solution to protecting parental rights is to adopt, what they call, a “Parental Rights Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution.  At first glance, that sounds like an awesome idea – to change the Constitution so that the rights of parents are protected in it. What could be better than that? What’s wrong with that as a solution to government intrusion of parental rights across the country? Sounds good, right?

But wait. Let’s take a closer look. Let’s do some investigation of the facts, and use some critical thinking. What does it do? How would it amend the Constitution?  Among other things, it would:

– declare that the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of a child is a fundamental right;
– the right includes the right to choose alternatives to public education; and
– neither the United States nor any State shall infringe these rights without demonstrating that its governmental interest is of the highest order.

(The full text can be found here: https://parentalrights.org/amendment/)

That sounds good, right?

But let’s think this through, from the original meaning of the existing Constitution, to who proposed the amendment and why, and to the logical conclusion of its ramifications following adoption of the amendment.  First, the original meaning of the Constitution was to specifically enumerate, and limit, exactly which powers the people were granting to the federal government. The powers that were specifically granted to Congress to adopt laws are found in Article I, Section 8. of the existing Constitution The federal government, through Congress, is limited to using only those powers delegated in that section. There is no grant of any direct power, in that section, to the federal government to regulate parents or children. Congress does have the power to tax and spend, and to effectively bribe States into accepting tax money in exchange for the States doing what the federal government wants. Again, there is no direct grant of power to Congress, however, to make laws regarding parents and children. That is a power left to the States.

Next, who originally proposed the Parental Rights Amendment?  Michael Farris did. He is the founder of HSLDA, the Home School Legal Defense Association.  That seems logical given that HSLDA defends the rights of parents.

But, look what the Amendment he proposed does – it grants to the federal government authority over parents and children, when they never before had that authority. It says the United States nor any State shall infringe the rights of parents, WITHOUT DEMONSTRATING that the government’s interest in infringing those rights is of the “highest order”. In other words, the Constitution, itself, now would specifically say that the federal government CAN INFRINGE the rights of parents, as long as their interest in doing so is of “the highest order”. What does the “highest order” mean? Presumably, it refers to the standard used by the courts called “strict scrutiny.” Whether you call it the “highest order” or “strict scrutiny”, neither term is specific. The court can say what that term means in each individual case. It could mean almost anything.

What likely is the natural result of granting that authority to the federal government?
When the federal government has the authority to infringe the rights of parents and children, even if the interest was only of the “highest order,” how would the federal government do so?
What would the government think is of the highest order?
Might the federal government think that it is of the highest order to protect children from abusive or neglectful parents?
Could the federal government then adopt laws to infringe on the rights of parents to protect the children from such allegations of abuse and neglect?
How would the federal government enforce such laws?
Could it be that the federal government would do so by creating a federal agency, perhaps a federal agency such as a federal Child Protective Services agency, or a federal Department of Children and Families?
Is that a realistic possibility? Is it likely to occur?
Would the Parental Rights Amendment proposed by Mr. Farris make it easier for the federal government to claim a newfound authority to establish such a CPS agency?
What do you think?

Before you decide, you need to know one more fact.  In doing the research on the Parental Rights Amendment, one very important fact stands out.  You can find this fact in an article that Michael Farris, himself, wrote, and posted on his own website, in explaining the need for the Parental Rights Amendment. In that article, he says, effectively, that he believes the government should be able to regulate the rights of parents.  He does not believe that parents should be free from government regulation, at all.

The exact quote from Mr. Farris is this: “ I think it is now evident that:

▪ The Founders did not believe that inalienable rights are absolute.
▪ Parental rights should not be absolute.

In light of the fact that parental rights cannot and should not be considered an absolute right, the question remains: Have we chosen the correct method of limitation on this right?  We certainly do not want to return to the language of the Massachusetts Bill of Rights of 1780: ‘Parents should have the right to make all decisions for their children provided that they are ‘demeaning themselves peaceably and [are] good subjects of the commonwealth’.”

(That quote can be found here: https://parentalrights.org/amendment/why-do-we-need-section-three-if-parental-rights-are-already-considered-inalienable/)

Read that part again: Mr. Farris does NOT believe that parental rights should be absolute.  Mr. Farris does NOT want to return to the rights, and freedom, that parents enjoyed under the Massachusetts Bill of Rights of 1780.  Mr. Farris does NOT believe that parents should have the right to make ALL decision for their children.

That appears to be the real reason that Mr. Farris, and his supporters, are in favor of changing the Constitution.  Mr. Farris, and his supporters, seemingly WANT to give power to the federal government, precisely so that the federal government CAN directly regulate the rights of parents and children, albeit if the government’s reason is of “the highest order”.  They seemingly WANT the federal government to be able to RESTRICT parents from making all decisions for their children, as long as the government’s reason is of “the highest order”.

The question is: Do you want that also?

Before you answer that question, please do your own research. Look up the facts. Read them for yourself. Question everything. Learn about everything. And then make up your mind. NHELD has done so, and we do not agree with Mr. Farris.  NHELD does believe that a return to the rights and freedom of 1780 is a good thing.  NHELD does believe that parents should have the right to make ALL decisions for their children.  It’s time for you to do the research and reach your own conclusions.

This is only one example of the kind of investigation of facts, and critical thinking, that NHELD urges everyone to undertake, about every issue or proposal.  In many cases, after you have done the research and considered the long term consequences of a particular issue or proposal, you will find that it is a worthy idea to support and defend.  You won’t know that, however, until you do that research and that contemplation.  NHELD will be exploring many more issues affecting the rights of parents as time progresses. Stay tuned.”


Join Attorney Stevenson on FB: https://www.facebook.com/groups/57298261707/
Website: https://www.dgstevensonlaw.com/  

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