Republicans Introduce Constitutional Amendment to Protect Parental Rights

Daily News Article   —   Posted on April 27, 2009

(by Ryan Byrnes, CNSNews.com) – Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) on [March 31st] introduced a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at bolstering parental rights in the face of government intrusion.

The Parental Rights Amendment, the latest in a series of similar proposals, would establish in the U.S. Constitution that parents – not government or any other organization – have “a fundamental right to raise their children as they see fit,” Hoekstra’s office said in a statement.

“The Parental Rights Amendment would help stop the assault on parental rights, whether it is an assault from Congress, from the courts or the U.N.,” Hoekstra told CNSNews.com on Tuesday.

“We’ve seen rights that have traditionally been reserved for parents being taken by schools and other institutions,” Hoekstra added. “That’s a mistake.”

The Parental Rights Amendment is a response to both domestic and international actions that Hoekstra said have contributed to an erosion of family values.

On the international side, Hoekstra mentioned a recent push to have the United States Senate ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

He also raised the example of a Democrat sponsored bill requiring parental notification before giving a child prescription drugs. The bill leaves the decision to government workers rather than parents.

“The current bill said parents should be notified,” Hoekstra said. “I think as a federal minimum standard, the standard shouldn’t be notification – it should be parental approval.”

The proposed constitutional amendment consists of three sections and reads as follows:

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.”

Hoekstra would not say if he expects his measure to pass in the Democrat-controlled Congress, but he expressed optimism given the groundwork that has been set by previous attempts at similar legislation.

The amendment has made significant progress among other members of Congress, Hoekstra said. As of [March 31st], 71 congressional co-sponsors had supported the measure, including Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

The motion has also gained momentum from ParentalRights.org, a site devoted to helping pass the legislation.

“By placing current Supreme Court doctrine into the express language of the U.S. Constitution, the Parental Rights Amendment will shield the child-parent relationship from government intrusion,” the site reads. “It will ensure that parental rights are preserved as a fundamental constitutional right.”

In the summer of 2008, Hoekstra proposed a constitutional amendment that stated parents had a fundamental right to direct the upbringing and education of their children and that government could only interfere in cases of “demonstrated government interest,” such as abuse and neglect.

However, Hoekstra failed to gain co-sponsorship for the proposal, and it did not leave its committee.

In 2007, DeMint co-sponsored the Parents’ Rights Empowerment and Protection Act, which called for schools to gain written parental permission before teaching children about sex or sexuality in the classroom. DeMint’s bill also failed to pass in committee.

The amendment would need to pass in both the House and the Senate by a two-thirds majority, and then win ratification by three-fourths of states in order to succeed.

NOTE: This article was first published at CNSNews.com on April 1, 2009.

All original CNSNews.com material, copyright 1998-2009 Cybercast News Service. Reprinted here with permission from CNSNews. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.

Questions

1. Which lawmakers recently introduced a constitutional amendment relating to parental rights?

2. What is the aim of the Parental Rights Amendment?

3. What would the Parental Rights Amendment do? Be specific.

4. Rep. Hoekstra says the Parental Rights Amendment is a response to actions that have contributed to an erosion of family values. What are these actions?

5. Why is Rep. Hoekstra hopeful about the passage of this bill?

6. What previous legislation did Sen. DeMint and Rep. Hoekstra sponsor that ultimately failed?

7. a) What needs to happen for the proposed bill to become a constitutional amendment?
b) Watch Rep. Hoekstra explaining the purpose of the amendment and why he believes it is important.
Do you support the passage of this bill? Explain your answer.


Free Answers — Sign-up here to receive a daily email with answers.

Background

Since its introduction in 1989, the United National Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified by every nation in the world except for the United States and Somalia. The CRC was signed by President Clinton in 1995, but early opposition in the Senate persuaded Clinton not to submit the treaty to the Senate for ratification.

The Senators who opposed the CRC in 1995 believed that the Convention marked a significant departure from the American concept of the relationship between state and child, and was incompatible with the right of parents to raise their children. (Read an explanation of why American families are opposed to this international law at parentalrights.org.)

 

Resources

The recently proposed constitutional amendment consists of three sections and reads as follows:
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.” (para. 9)

Read the text and track the progress of the Parental Rights Amendment proposal at govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=hj111-42 or at the Library of Congress’ THOMAS website here.

Visit ParentalRights.org.

Watch a video of Rep. Hoekstra explaining the purpose of the Parental Rights Amendment at Rep. Hoekstra’s youtube page at youtube.com/user/HoekstraPress.

Read the details on how a bill becomes a law at bensguide.gpo.gov.

Put the steps in order for how a bill becomes a law here.