DOES THE STATE OWN THE CHILDREN?
by Mary Ann Kreitzer
In November 2008, a family fled their homeland when the parents faced arrest and the loss of their five children for the “crime” of homeschooling. Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, formerly of Bissingen, Germany, sought political asylum in the U.S. where, on January 26th, a federal immigration judge in Memphis, TN granted their request. Judge Lawrence Burman stated in his decision "We can't expect every country to follow our Constitution ...However, the rights being violated here are basic human rights that no country has a right to violate.”1
Germany’s draconian crackdown on homeschoolers and other parents who attempt to protect their children, e.g., by withdrawing them from immoral sex ed classes, has resulted in arrest and imprisonment under laws established in the 1930s by the Nazis. One would think authorities in Germany eager to put that chapter of their nation’s history behind them, but apparently the desire to control the lives of citizens is greater than the wish to distance themselves from totalitarian policies of the past.
“Thank God we live in the United States,” you’re thinking, right? But the increasing abuses of parental rights in this country are staggering. And, in fact, there is judicial disagreement about whether parents have fundamental rights in the education and upbringing of their children at all. In the most recent Supreme Court case addressing parental rights, Troxel vs. Granville (2000), Washington State grandparents sued for visitation rights under a state law after their son, the father of two daughters who never married their mother, committed suicide. The mother made the decision to limit visitation from the grandparents which led to the lawsuit.
Ultimately the justices ruled 6-3 in the mother’s favor, but the judgments behind their ruling were less than encouraging. There was no consensus and several of the judges wrote independent opinions. Antonin Scalia was one of the three nay votes. Although he believes parental rights are among the “inalienable rights” outlined in the Declaration of Independence, they are not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution. As a strict constructionist, he does not believe the court has the authority to recognize rights not contained in the text. As to the majority, their widely diverging opinions made it uncertain that the court will uphold parental rights in future cases.2 And there are likely many more cases coming as states act in ways that violate parents’ rights to make important decisions for their children in many areas: education, health care, discipline, etc.
A few examples of states usurping the rights of parents illustrate the potential danger. In 2007 two governors, Tim
Kaine of Virginia and Rick Perry of Texas, signed legislation mandating that adolescent girls be inoculated with Gardasil, the controversial HPV vaccine produced by
Merck.3 The governors’ position was puzzling since the virus is transmitted by sexual activity unlike airborne diseases that are easily passed through casual contact in school. The pharmaceutical giant lobbied heavily for mandatory state vaccinations with a potential income of $3 billion a year. A cynic might wonder how much money was greasing the legislation. Both governors, however, backed off in the face of widespread public opposition.
In the area of education, parental rights have been under assault for years. Home schooling parents and those with children in public schools struggle against abuse by the state. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) monitors laws on home schooling and urges families to lobby to protect their rights. They send out alerts when states introduce unnecessary and onerous legislation that serves no purpose except to make home schooling difficult or impossible. And there have been many battles, especially to stop laws that require parents to be certified in all subjects they teach, laws designed neither to assist parents or children, but to protect the education lobby and suppress home schooling.
At the same time, many public schools are telling parents to butt out with regard to what they teach in the classroom. When David Parker of Lexington, MA objected to his five-year-old being indoctrinated in homosexuality and asked for the school to get his prior consent before exposing the boy to offensive materials, he ignited a battle that raged in Massachusetts for months. The upshot was that the school said teaching “diversity” did not violate the state opt-out law which protects parents’ right to remove their children from sexuality programs. Unbelievably, the principal had the chutzpah to say homosexuality is not about sex, despite the fact that books like King and King which shows two men kissing was being read in some classrooms.
While at present significant battles are being fought in the states, there is an even bigger threat on the horizon, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Under the Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the Constitution, “all Treaties… shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or the Laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” In other words, ratifying the CRC invalidates all state and federal laws conflicting with it. Constitutionally, treaties take precedence over U.S. laws.
But isn’t CRC simply an effort to protect the legitimate rights of children? No! The treaty uses children, a typical tactic of the liberal left, to launch an assault on the family and, as is always the case with liberalism, to advance the power of the state. Unfortunately, CRC has been widely accepted worldwide. In fact, the United States and Somalia are the only two holdout nations in the entire world. Both have signed the treaty, but the internal governing bodies have not ratified it. (In the U.S. a two-thirds vote of the Senate is necessary to ratify a treaty.) That means, under the current liberal administration the threat from the treaty is very real.
What would it mean to parents? The impact would be far reaching. CRC allows children, for example, to choose their own religion. Parents are merely advisors. It forbids corporal punishment and gives government workers the right to overrule parents’ decisions.
Phyllis Schlafly, head of Eagle Forum and one of the savviest watchdogs in the country, pointed out many problems with CRC in 1993 when the Clinton administration, with scores of liberal advocacy groups, worked to get the treaty ratified. Schlafly pointed out that the treaty “prescribes the content of what must be taught to all children in several sensitive areas. Article 28 prescribes that ‘the education of the child shall be directed to’ such things as ‘the priniciples enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations’; respect for ‘the national values of the country…from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own’ (that means adopting the controversial curricular approach know as ‘global education’ or ‘multiculturalism’); ‘equality of sexes’ (that means promoting the Equal Rights Amendment which was rejected by the American people in 1982); and ‘the development of respect for the natural environment’ (certainly one of the most politically-charged issues in the United States). The U.N. Treat recognizes that private schools may exist, but only so long as they teach the above subjects and otherwise conform to government standards.”4 It’s easy to see that today’s liberals espouse the same agenda and would be happy to see CRC take center stage once again.
Others also warn of the treaty’s dangers. According to Mike Farris of the organization Parental Rights, “Christian schools that refuse to teach ‘alternative worldviews’ and teach that Christianity is the only true religion ‘fly in the face of article 29 of the treaty.’”5 Farris also says “allowing parents to opt their children out of sex education has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC. Children would have the right to reproductive health information and services including abortion, without parental knowledge or consent.”6 At present the battle over parental consent for abortion is being fought state by state. Ratifying CRC would, as Roe v. Wade did with abortion, nullify all existing laws requiring parental notification or consent.
Even more ominously, CRC gives children legal rights to oppose their parents. As Farris points out, “Article 37, Section (d) states that ‘Every child deprived of his or her liberty’ (as one placed on restriction certainly is) ‘shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.’ No exception is made for parent-mandated ‘deprivation of liberty’, such as grounding or restriction.”
Already the courts have become arbiters of “what’s best for the children” in disputes between estranged parents and even in intact families over conflicts between parents and their children or others. Horror stories abound. In Washington State a 13 year-old who objected to going to church too often complained to a school counselor. The teenager was advised to report his parents to Child Protective Services. They placed him in a foster home and only returned him after the parents agreed to abide by the judge’s demand to take him to church less often.7 In 2007 in West Virginia a family court judge ordered a mom to share custody of her four-year-old daughter with two babysitters. For a time, the sitters actually had primary custody. It took an appeal which ended up in the WV Supreme Court to overturn the insane ruling. Fortunately, the judge had the sense to ask, “Why does a natural parent have to prove fitness when she has never been found unfit?"8
Imagine these situations magnified by the interference of global social engineers from the U.N.. That’s the specter arising from CRC. The situation is already at to crisis levels around the country, particularly in liberal states like Massachusetts, even without CRC. In her 1994 book Out of Control, detailing abuses of child protection agencies, Brenda Scott outlined numerous cases where government authorities, with little provocation, removed children from their families, sometimes for years.9 Unbelievably, authorities in some cases refused to return children even when they knew the family was innocent – proof of a culture gone mad. CRC can only make matters worse.
Professor James Hitchcock in an address at Hillsdale College in 1984 observed that, “No one in the least sensitive to the contemporary moral and political climate can doubt that the family is under strong attack…at bottom it is an attack motivated by the conviction that the family is a bad institution, one which restricts and limits its members and from which they must be liberated….
Even more than the church, the family is the vehicle by which traditional moral values are preserved and handed on….Family and religious loyalties, tenaciously held to, are the maximum possible source of resistance to any kind of social or political totalitarianism. Thus to those who would use public policy to impose a new ethical universality, the family can only be an obstacle, to be attacked and undermined in every way possible.”10
Hitchcock’s statement remains as relevant today as when he made it twenty-five years ago. In fact, the attack on the family and parental authority has increased and CRC can only make it worse. Scott agrees with Hitchcock saying that, “Strong families are one of the biggest stumbling blocks to educating children for a global community. For most kids, the home is the place where their values are formed. Because of this, those who wish to usher in a New World Order must be able to monitor and dictate the values of the next generation. To achieve this goal, it is important that parental authority be remanded to the state. There is a growing belief that parenting is not a private act, it is a social act which should be monitored….Sociologist Alice Rossi takes the argument even further, claiming that the human species has reached a point in its evolution where parenting must become a community act and that it is ‘unnatural’ for people to parent on their own or in nuclear families.”11
This is the inevitable outcome of Hillary Clinton’s contention that “It takes a village to raise a child.” She’s not talking about the extended family. Hillary’s village is a bevy of government functionaries in blue berets from the U.N. and Child Protective Services who know better than parents how to raise children for the new world order.
Is there a possibility that CRC will be passed in the current Congress? The treaty has been unpopular since the Clinton administration signed it in 1995 because of the dangers to U.S. sovereignty and violations of parental rights. It lay dormant during the Bush years. However, Barack Obama expressed his support for it during his presidential campaign and again since his inauguration. Also, according to a November LifeNews article last November noting the 20th anniversary of the treaty, “Earlier this year (2009), US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice was reported as saying that the US was considering ‘when and how it might be possible to join’ the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”12 Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Barbara Boxer want the treaty ratified. Mike Farris said in early 2009 that Boxer, in a private meeting the previous Christmas, had predicted ratification of CRC within two years.13 It’s a frightening though, even more so because the federal judiciary is already considering international law to influence legal decisions in this country. According to Farris, “In Lawrence v. Texas, the Court used international law to interpret the U.S. Constitution, ‘discovering’ a new constitutional right to engage in homosexual conduct. Lawrence was not the first time the Court had used international law to interpret our Constitution – it is just the most well-known example.”.
As a lawyer defending parental rights in numerous cases, Farris believes the only fix for the growing hostility against the family is a Constitutional Amendment. His proposed amendment which has six senators and 129 congressman as co-sponsors reads, “Section 1: The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right. Section 2: 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. Section 3: 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.”14
The Amendment, in many ways, mirrors Catholic Church teaching upholding the rights and duties of parents over their children. It respects the Church doctrine of subsidiarity and addresses two serious problems: the growing abuse by courts hostile to the family and the increasing judicial practice of looking to international law in making domestic decisions. While achieving ratification for a Constitutional amendment is an uphill battle many believe it is the only way to ensure that the parent-child relationship will be protected from judicial activists intent on usurping parents’ roles.
As Phyllis Schlafly warned in 1993, “Any time a treaty is proposed, we should study the language, as well as the intent, and consider a worst case scenario of how the treaty's provisions - in the hands of international bodies (over which we have no control) - could imperil American sovereignty and the rights of American citizens…. If this U.N. Treaty is ever written into American law - a treaty which assumes that government is the source of the listed ‘rights’ - this can only diminish the status of existing American rights. Since U.N. treaties, courts, and bureaucracies do not respect our American philosophy of individual rights, it would badly curtail our liberty to submit ourselves to a U.N. document interpreted by foreign lawyers.”15
We’ve seen the dangers of the U.N. both to individuals and countries in its aggressive promotion of abortion and its use of environmental extremism to attack sovereignty. CRC is just one more vehicle to transfer authority to U.N. functionaries. The only way to stop that erosion, at least in the family, is the Parental Rights Amendment.
Finally, the United States still represents the best hope for many families fleeing injustice. The Romeikes whose story was told at the beginning of this article found asylum here against the philosophy that government is the final arbiter of what’s “in the best interests” of the children. The judge in their case respected their control of their children’s education as a “basic human right.” The United States may be the last holdout and hope for families like the Romeikes. But if she is to remain so, Americans must stand up and fight for the family. the future of our children and grandchildren depends on it.
5 Michael P. Farris, J.D., Nannies in Blue Berets: Understanding the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Dec. 15,2008, .
ParentalRights.org, The Threat: Attacks on Parental Rights.
James Hitchcock, Ph.D., Imprimis, Competing Ethical Systems, April 1984, online here.
Chelsea Schilling, United Nations’ Threat: No More Parental Rights, World Net Daily, February 5, 2009.