Thursday, April 9, 2009
President of ParentalRights.org
March 31, 2009
On behalf of ParentalRights.org and the rapidly growing number of allied organizations, I want to thank Senator Jim DeMint, Congressman Pete Hoekstra, and my own Congressman Frank Wolf for their leadership on this important issue.
There are two basic reasons that the Constitution has been amended throughout our history. Sometimes the need is to preserve our law and traditions from potential threats and erosion of our rights. The Bill of Rights serves as the chief example of amendments designed to preserve the existing rights of the people.
At other times, it is absolutely necessary to change the existing law. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were clearly necessary to end the evils of slavery and establish the principle of equal protection for all Americans.
The Parental Rights Amendment follows the pattern of the Bill of Rights—the goal of this Amendment is to preserve our existing law and traditions against judicial erosion and the ever-growing threat of international law.
Sections 1 and 2 of this Amendment do nothing more than restate the time-honored doctrines of the Supreme Court on parental rights. We are simply changing parental rights from an implied right based on judicial opinions to an express right based upon actual constitutional text.
Section 1 faithfully employs the words and phrasing of the Supreme Court’s decision of Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925), to declare that the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right.
Section 2 carefully follows the words of the Court in Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), to declare that parental rights, while very important, have limits. The government may intervene when the interest is of the highest order and not otherwise served. This section is a correct statement of current law. Today, when the government has proper evidence of child abuse or neglect, it may and should prosecute a parent who is responsible for such behavior.
Section 2 ensures that this principle remains intact. Parental rights are fundamental, but they are not absolute.
Section 3 preserves the current principle that only American laws govern the relationship between parents and children in this country. The use of international law is a rapidly growing trend in our judicial system. One federal district judge in New York has on two separate occasions ruled that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child already binds the United States under the doctrine of customary international law. An Ohio court ruled on an obviously flawed premise that this treaty had already been ratified by the Senate, and therefore ordered parents to stop smoking because it harmed the health of their children.
Section 3 makes it clear that the only law which can be used in American courts regarding American families is the law made in America by our legislatures or the people themselves. The use of international law for domestic purposes is utterly contrary to the idea that this nation is a self-governing Republic.
This section is necessary especially in the context of international law. Under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, international legal obligations are of superior rank to national law—even if that law is from the national constitution. However, there is an exception. Article 46 of the VCLT says that when the national constitution makes an exception concerning the power to enter treaties, then the national law still triumphs even in the face of an inconsistent treaty obligation.
Section 3 makes it unconstitutional for this nation to enter into a treaty that gives away our sovereignty on the subject of American parents and American children.
This should be a bi-partisan issue. President Obama recently declared, “In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father.” Every member of Congress who agrees with the President on this principle should be in favor of this Amendment.
Every member of Congress who believes that Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925), was correctly decided should be in favor of Section 1.
Every member of Congress who believes that Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), was correctly decided should be in favor of Section 2.
And every member of Congress who believes that only American legislators should make public policy for American families should be in favor of Section 3.
On this last point, a post-election Zogby poll (sponsored by WorldNetDaily) makes it clear that virtually every sector of the American public agrees with this last proposition.
When asked if they wanted American judges to use American law alone or to also consider international law in making decisions, by an overwhelming margin, the American public rejected the idea of using international law for these purposes.
The majority of Republican voters reject international law.
So do the majority of Democratic voters.
Those who voted for McCain reject international law.
A majority of those who voted for Obama reject it as well.
Union members reject international law.
NRA members reject international law.
Every region of the nation rejects international law.
Every age group rejects international law.
Every racial group rejects international law.
This is a bipartisan issue in America among voters, and I truly hope and believe that it will become a bipartisan issue on the Hill. The gap between the values of Capitol Hill and the values of the American people has grown too large on too many issues. This is the very best place to show the American public that we all can work together for shared values.
Both political parties say they are for family values. And this will demonstrate meaningful support for the family.
This Amendment preserves two essential values: the value that good families, not government, have the right to make decisions for children; and that America, not the UN or any other nation, gets to make our public policy to govern the critical relationship between parents and children.
If you have not signed the Parental Rights petition, please go here to sign:
Monday, March 16, 2009
A North Carolina judge has ordered three children to attend public schools this fall because the homeschooling their mother has provided over the last four years needs to be "challenged."
The children, however, have tested above their grade levels – by as much as two years.
The decision is raising eyebrows among homeschooling families, and one friend of the mother has launched a website to publicize the issue.
The ruling was made by Judge Ned Mangum of Wake County, who was handling a divorce proceeding for Thomas and Venessa Mills.
A statement released by a publicist working for the mother, whose children now are 10, 11 and 12, said Mangum stripped her of her right to decide what is best for her children's education.
The judge, when contacted by WND, explained his goal in ordering the children to register and attend a public school was to make sure they have a "more well-rounded education."
"I thought Ms. Mills had done a good job [in homeschooling]," he said. "It was great for them to have that access, and [I had] no problems with homeschooling. I said public schooling would be a good complement."
The judge said the husband has not been supportive of his wife's homeschooling, and "it accomplished its purposes. It now was appropriate to have them back in public school."
"EXPELLED": Get the hot new documentary that is blowing the lid off censorship of ideas in American universities - particularly anything to do with the fact that God might actually exist.
Mangum said he made the determination on his guiding principle, "What's in the best interest of the minor children," and conceded it was putting his judgment in place of the mother's.
And he said that while he expressed his opinion from the bench in the court hearing, the final written order had not yet been signed.
However, the practice of a judge replacing a parent's judgment with his own regarding homeschooling was argued recently when a court panel in California ruled that a family would no longer be allowed to homeschool their own children.
WND reported extensively when the ruling was released in February 2008, alarming homeschool advocates nationwide because of its potential ramifications.
Ultimately, the 2nd Appellate District Court in Los Angeles reversed its own order, affirming the rights of California parents to homeschool their children if they choose.
The court, which earlier had opined that only credentialed teachers could properly educate children, was faced with a flood of friend-of-the-court briefs representing individuals and groups, including Congress members.
The conclusion ultimately was that parents, not the state, would decide where children are educated.
The California opinion said state law permits homeschooling "as a species of private school education" but that statutory permission for parents to teach their own children could be "overridden in order to protect the safety of a child who has been declared dependent."
In the North Carolina case, Adam Cothes, a spokesman for the mother, said the children routinely had been testing at up to two years above their grade level, were involved in swim team and other activities and events outside their home and had taken leadership roles in history club events.
On her website, family friend Robyn Williams said Mangum stated his decision was not ideologically or religiously motivated but that ordering the children into public schools would "challenge the ideas you've taught them."
Williams, a homeschool mother of four herself, said, "I have never seen such injustice and such a direct attack against homeschool."
"This judge clearly took personal issue with Venessa's stance on education and faith, even though her children are doing great. If her right to homeschool can be taken away so easily, what will this mean for homeschoolers state wide, or even nationally?" Williams asked.
Williams said she's trying to rally homeschoolers across the nation to defend their rights as Americans and parents to educate their own children.
Williams told WND the public school order was the worst possible outcome for Ms. Mills, who had made it clear she felt it was important to her children that she continue homeschooling.
According to Williams' website, the judge also ordered a mental health evaluation for the mother – but not the father – as part of the divorce proceedings, in what Williams described as an attack on the "mother's conservative Christian beliefs."
According to a proposed but as-yet unsigned order submitted by the father's lawyer to Mangum, "The children have thrived in homeschool for the past four years, but need the broader focus and socialization available to them in public school. The Court finds that it is in the children's best interest to continue their homeschooling through the end of the current school year, but to begin attending public school at the beginning of the 2009-2010 instructional year."
The order proposed by the father's lawyer also conceded the reason for the divorce was the father's "adultery," but it specifically said the father would not pay for homeschooling expenses for his children.
The order also stated, "Defendant believes that plaintiff is a nurturing mother who loves the children. Defendant believes that plaintiff has done a good job with the homeschooling of the children, although he does not believe that continued homeschooling is in the best interest of the children."
The website said the judge also said public school would "prepare these kids for the real world and college" and allow them "socialization."
Williams said the mother originally moved into a homeschool schedule because the children were not doing as well as she hoped at the local public schools.
In last year's dispute in California, the ruling that eventually was released was praised by pro-family organizations.
"We're pleased the appeals court recognized the rights of parents to provide education for their children," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice. "This decision reaffirms the constitutional right that's afforded to parents in directing the education of their children. It's an important victory for families who cherish the freedom to ensure that their children receive a high quality education that is inherent in homeschooling."
"Parents have a constitutional right to make educational choices for their children," said Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb. "Thousands of California families have educated their children successfully through homeschooling. We're pleased with the court's decision, which protects the rights of families and protects an avenue of education that has proven to benefit children time and time again.
The North Carolina ruling also resembles a number of rulings handed down against homeschool parents in Germany, where such instruction has been banned since the years of Adolf Hitler's rule.
As WND reported, Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, has commented previously on the issue, contending the government "has a legitimate interest in countering the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion."
"The minister of education does not share your attitudes toward so-called homeschooling," said a government letter in response. "... You complain about the forced school escort of primary school children by the responsible local police officers. ... In order to avoid this in future, the education authority is in conversation with the affected family in order to look for possibilities to bring the religious convictions of the family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement."
WND also reported recently when a German appeals court tossed out three-month jail terms issued to a mother and father who homeschool their children. But the court also ordered new trials that could leave the parents with similar penalties, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association.
The case involves Juergen and Rosemarie Dudek of Archfeldt, Germany, who last summer received formal notices of their three-month sentences.
The 90-day sentences came about when Hesse State Prosecutor Herwig Muller appealed a lower court's determination of fines for the family. The ruling had imposed fines of about 900 euros, or $1,200, for not sending their children to school
Muller, however, told the parents they shouldn't worry about any fines, since he would "send them to jail," the HSLDA reported.
HSLDA spokesman Michael Donnelly warned the homeschooling battle is far from over in Germany.
"There continue to be signs that the German government is cracking down on homeschooling families," he reported. "A recent letter from one family in southern Germany contained threats from local school authorities that unless the family enrolled their children in school, they would seek fines in excess of 50,000 euros (nearly $70,000), jail time and the removal of custody of the children."
HSLDA officials estimate there are some 400 homeschool families in Germany, virtually all of them either forced into hiding or facing court actions.
You can keep up with the latest on this case at this blog:
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS TO OPPOSE DAVID OGDEN FOR DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL TODAY!!!
Go to this link to take action: http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/200903090.asp
HSLDA urges you to call your two U.S. senators and voice your opposition to Ogden’s confirmation. If either of your senators are among the five who voted to oppose Mr. Ogden in committee, we encourage you to call their offices and thank them for their principled vote. They are Tom Coburn (Oklahoma), John Cornyn (Texas), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Orrin Hatch (Utah), and Jeff Sessions (Alabama).
The most important reason to oppose Ogden’s nomination is his belief that the rules found in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child are already binding on the United States under the doctrines of international law.
For background information on this doctrine, see Michael Farris’ article, “A Deeper Understanding of the Threat of International Law” in the November/December 2007 Home School Court Report.
This means Ogden believes that the legal rules contained in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child are already binding on the United States, even though this treaty has never been sent to the U.S. Senate for ratification.
Homeschoolers have long understood the dangers of this international treaty, which contains the core principle that the government is primarily responsible for the education and upbringing of children, not the parents. Ogden used this U.N. treaty in a Supreme Court brief to reach the conclusion that America’s courts can overrule state law, using international law as their guidepost for constitutional interpretation. And Ogden successfully argued this philosophy to the highest court in the land.
Clearly, Ogden is a proven advocate for the harmful position that international law should be used to interpret the Constitution of the United States and be controlling over state laws.
If this weren’t enough, Ogden has a history of representing Playboy and other purveyors of pornography in high-profile legal cases. He also challenged the legality of using filters on library computers to protect children from seeing pornography. His record prompts many to question whether Ogden would enforce the nation’s pornography laws, as would be part of his job description as deputy attorney general.
The U.S. Senate needs to understand that the American public does not approve of officials who believe that international law trumps American law written by representatives elected by the American people.
If one of the five senators who voted to opposed Ogden’s nomination is from your state (see above), please email his office and thank him.
If your senators are not among these five, please call their offices and urge them to vote against Ogden’s nomination. You may find your senators’ contact info at the online HSLDA Legislative Toolbox.
Thank you for standing with us for freedom.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
From Janet’s article:
“Rep. (and former judge) Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, pointed out in the House Judiciary Committee the bill "is going to put pastors in prison." Title 18 of the U.S. Criminal Code, Section 2 (a) reads:
(a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal. – 18 USC Sec. 2
That means if you "counsel someone," or write a book, or read from the Bible (such as what Obama says is an "obscure" passage in the first chapter of Romans), you could be found guilty of "inducing" someone to commit a crime. “
From a manual used to identify those who might possibly commit hate crimes: “These suspect groups also "include apocalyptic Christianity in their ideology and believe we are in, or approaching, a period of violence and social turmoil which will precede the Second Coming of Christ" (p.22). If you are a Christian who believes what the Bible has to say about homosexual behavior, you're a suspect. If you've noticed that reading the paper is strikingly similar to reading the book of Revelation, you are also on a police "most wanted list" of potential criminals.”
Please consider taking action by calling your congressman and senators while it’s still legal to speak freely.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
State Department to Expedite the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child?
Parental Rights News,
Dear Friend of Parental Rights,
The following story is in the news this morning at ParentalRights.org:
SENATOR BOXER ASKS STATE DEPARTMENT TO EXPEDITE THE U.N. CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
After Ambassador Susan Rice’s inability to make an “iron-clad commitment” for immediate ratification, Boxer will ask Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for
The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which opponents say could destroy American sovereignty by imposing international rulings on American law, could reach the Senate within 60 days. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) says she wants a 60-day timeframe for the State Department to complete its review so the Senate can move toward ratification of the UNCRC. During the Senate Confirmation hearing between Boxer and UN Ambassador-designate Susan Rice held on
Opponents vehemently disagree. Under the Supremacy Clause (Article VI) of the U.S. Constitution, ratified treaties preempt state law. Since virtually all laws in the
In the hearing, Rice promised to review the treaty but noted “challenges of domestic implementation.” Rice also resisted a strict timeframe: “I don’t have a sense of how long it will take us, in light of the many different things on our plate,” she said.
Calling it a “complicated treaty,” Rice expressed her commitment to the treaty’s objectives, but when Rice concluded that she could not meet the Senator’s strict timeframe, Boxer said they would take it up with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In light of this news, many are asking us, “What can I do to help stop this treaty and preserve parental rights and American sovereignty?” The answer is, become a PRO-Active 10-and-2 Representative. Petition signatures will help. Sending emails, post cards, or phone calls to your Congressman and Senators will help more. But signing up as a 10-and-2 Representative will do so much more.
First, instead of just one signature, you will recruit 10 in addition to your own. Instead of 1 post card or call to each representative, you will generate 11 (including yourself). Most importantly, though, 10-and-2 Reps recruit 2 more people to do the same thing, so we grow exponentially. We know you can’t invest 40 hours a week and collect hundreds of signatures, but you can have that same impact in just 2-4 hours as a PRO-Active 10-and-2 Representative.
To get full details and sign up as a 10-and-2 Representative, to make a donation to fund these efforts, or simply to sign the petition, visit http://www.parentalrights.org/join-the-fight.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The following is an update on the developing situation in California from Michael Farris, chairman, Home School Legal Defense Association.
On Tuesday, March 11, Jack O’Connell, California Superintendent of Public Instruction, announced that he believed that homeschooling is still legal in California. O’Connell’s statement is welcome news. Click here to read O’Connell’s statement. Some might conclude that the statement ends the controversy. However, it is not the end of the matter; it is just an important step along the way.
His clarifying statement was probably the result of the massive public outcry against the February 28 decision of the California Court of Appeal which effectively ruled that homeschooling is illegal in California unless conducted by a credentialed teacher and that parents have no constitutional right to homeschool.
O’Connell’s statement is helpful, but the courts will undoubtedly take the position that their determination of the meaning of state law is final even though they should give serious deference to the position of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
It should also be remembered that local school districts make the decision about when to initiate prosecutions for truancy, and they are not officially controlled by the state agency on these matters. However, many local officials may be influenced by O’Connell’s positive statement.
Some have contended that the decision of the Court of Appeal in In Re Rachel L. only affects that particular family. While a court order can only direct one family to stop homeschooling, the case clearly sets a legal precedent that will be binding against all other families if this case is not reversed. (Technically, the decision is binding only in the Second District which consists of Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties. However, other appellate districts will normally treat it as persuasive precedent. If ratified by the Supreme Court of California, it formally binds all California counties.)
There are two basic issues in the case:
- Does state law allow parents to homeschool without a state teaching credential?
- If not, is this law unconstitutional?
Below are three short quotations from the case which give the clear answer:
“It is clear to us that enrollment and attendance in a public full-time day school is required by California law for minor children unless (1) the child is enrolled in a private full-time day school and actually attends that private school, (2) the child is tutored by a person holding a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught.”
“California courts have held that under provisions in the Education Code, parents do not have a constitutional right to school their children in their own home.”
“We agree with the Shinn court’s statement that ‘the educational program of the State of California was designed to promote the general welfare of all the people and was not designed to accommodate the personal ideas of any individual in the field of education.’ ”
In the first quote the court makes it clear that it believes that parents may not operate their own private schools. In the second they deny that a parent has a constitutional right to homeschool, and in the third they concur that California law does not accommodate parents pursuing their own education program for their children.
As you can see, the decision is categorical and was not written to be limited to just the facts of this case.
Due to the scope of the court decision, HSLDA is pleased to be working with other self-identified pro-homeschooling organizations, including Christian Home Educators Association of California (CHEA), Homeschool Association of California (HSC), California Homeschool Network (CHN), and Family Protection Ministries (FPM) in order to oppose this ruling. We are all in this one together.
We plan to:
- Support the family’s petition for review to the California Supreme Court.
- File an amicus brief on behalf of all our members, and others we represent, if the California Supreme Court accepts the case for review.
We believe that it is highly unlikely that local officials will begin proceedings against homeschool families until this present case is resolved.
This ruling has obviously caused great concern among California homeschoolers. We want to remind all California homeschoolers that you should stay calm in the face of this decision. Please continue to operate your homeschool, because we believe that our interpretation of the law is correct and will ultimately prevail in the court system.
We must remain vigilant, however. If you are a member of HSLDA, and you are contacted by a school district, please contact HSLDA immediately.
On another front, later today I am meeting with a half-dozen congressmen to plan a strategy to push for a constitutional amendment on parental rights. We have been receiving numerous calls from members of Congress wanting to respond to this decision. Visit ParentalRights.org for more information.
The way the homeschool law has worked in California for the past two decades has been successful for all homeschoolers. If we can keep what we have today that would be a significant victory for homeschool freedom.
We also understand that the current situation has caused much stress for California homeschool families. We are praying, and we encourage you to pray, that the threat we face will be swiftly removed and that homeschool freedom in California will be preserved.
We have seen God’s hand of protection on the homeschooling movement for the 25 years we have been working together for this cause. There is no reason to begin to doubt God now.
Chairman, Home School Legal Defense Association
In order to show how many families across America support homeschool freedom in California we are asking you to sign a petition requesting that the California Supreme Court depublish the opinion In re Rachel L. If you have not already done so, please sign the petition today and forward our website, www.hslda.org, to those who support homeschool freedom.