Thursday, November 03, 2005

9th Circuit Court at it Again: Parents have no fundamental rights.

This bit of amazing judicial flatulence discharged by that friend of the ACLU the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has begun making the rounds of the blogosphere. A couple of things stand out to me:

“We hold, and agree that there is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children, either independent of their right to direct the upbringing and education of their children or encompassed by it.”
Clearly, this case drives home the fact that if you have your kids in so-called “public schools”, the implicit and explicit understanding is that in doing so, you give up a great deal of autonomy in determining what types of information your child will be exposed to.

“We also hold that parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determination of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students.”
In other words, parents can’t force curriculum changes according to their personal beliefs. Sure. Great. It also means that they have no say whatsoever in what their children are being taught in a “public” school.

The court ruled next that the right to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance to their personal and religious beliefs” does not rise to the level of a fundamental right protected by Substantive Due Process."

“We cannot overstate the importance of these rights
(sexuality, contraception, and abortions as “rights to privacy”). They symbolize the importance of our evolving understanding of the nature of the Constitution."
Ah yes; that whole “living document” thing. Another word for “evolving understanding” is “moral relativism.”

So now, wait a minute. The “right” to abortion is considered as a fundamental right of “privacy” under Roe v. Wade, and yet a parent wanting to keep an 8-year-old out of the “Understanding Homosexuality” class doesn’t have the same right. Why? Because the parents desires conflict with the State’s interests, whereas abortion does not.

“…protecting the mental health of children falls well within the State’s broad interest in education.”
And whose definition of mental health do we get to use? The State's, of course. As determined by progressive academics and psychologists who influence our “progressive” curriculums designed around promoting diversity, tolerance and emotional health, often at the expense of actual learning. Most definitions of "neglect" I Googled include failure to provide adequate education as neglect or abuse.

The exhibit reveals that the survey was intended to gauge exposure to early trauma, and to assist in designing an intervention program to help the School District reduce barriers to the student’s ability to learn.
An “intervention” program? As in what? As in, based on the results of the survey, identify children from “at risk” home environments, and arrange home visits by DHHS representatives to “evaluate” the situation. While on the surface this may sound like a good idea, it also opens the door to a sliding scale of what is “healthy” or "appropriate”, as determined by the STATE, not the parents.

It all essentially boils down to this:

By placing your children in public schools, you commit to an implicit contact that allows the school to educate the child as it sees fit. This ruling affirms that parents have no constitutional right to determine school curriculum, or require that it conform to their ideals. Hey, great. Granted. Good on ya.

What is also says is that the State is to be considered the most effective arbiter of what is “mentally healthy” for your child.

“the State, as parens patriae, may supplement, and even in some circumstances supplant the parents interest in the custody, care and nurture of their children…”
If the interests of the State come into conflict with the interests of the parents, the State will triumph. If The State, in all its wisdom, determines that it is important for 3rd graders to be sensitized to the needs and practices of homosexuality in order to make them more tolerant, and better citizens, then you, as a parent, have no say at all. Executing their “rights” under parens patriae, The State can step in and require that the material be presented in order to “protect” and “nurture” the child.

What this case ultimately does is to re-emphasize that our “public” schools are not public, but government schools. The government determines the curriculum, requires that your child learns what IT sees fit, and puts penalties in place for parents who are too aggressive in bucking the system.

In attempting to keep your child out of these sessions, you can be accused of “abusing” your child, as your are depriving them of information or evaluation that The State has determined to be essential to their mental health. By repeatedly and willfully “abusing” your child in this way, The State can step in and take custody of your child, thus ensuring that they will receive the “education” they need. Never mind that The State has just torn apart of family in pursuit of a social agenda.

The clear subtext of this decision, and so many of the referenced precedents within it, is that The State, ultimately, is the final arbiter of what a child needs to learn in order to be a “good citizen” and a “productive member of society." Parents are delegated child-rearing responsibilities only so far as they do not come in conflict with the State’s model.

Your children are essentially wards of the state. This should also be a wake-up call for homeschoolers. Reading the text of this decision, homeschooling is not the refuge it once was from Federal intervention in your home life.

Linked at Mudville Gazette, Stop The ACLU!, and Basil's Blog

Update: How is it that one parent can complain about a football coach praying with his players before a game, or having a school holding an Easter pageant, and the whole frickin' machine grinds to a halt. But let parents complain about an intrusive extracurricular survey dealing with sexuality, violence, and other issues and they're told essentially to pound sand, you can't tell us what to do?

I just.Don't.Get it.