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Victories from this legislative session include the passage of SB 314, the Parental Rights Statute, which states, "The liberty interest of a parent in the care, custody and management of the parent’s child is a fundamental right." SB 314 was signed into law by Governor Sandoval on June 5, 2013. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 126. SB 314 went into effect on 10/1/2013 and further establishes the right of parents to choose to home school their children.
06/05/2013: Approved by the Governor
05/30/2013: Approved by the Senate and forwarded to the Governor
05/17/2013: Received a "do pass as amended" vote in the Assembly
05/10/2013: Scheduled for hearing in Assembly Judiciary at 8:00am
04/23/2013: In Assembly Judiciary Committee
04/22/2013: Unanimously passed in the Senate
04/12/2013: Hearing in Senate Judiciary
04/09/2013: Hearing in Senate Judiciary
03/19/2013: Referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee
03/18/2013: Introduced in the Senate
In the event parents have to go to court to seek protection of their rights against government intrusion, courts first must decide whether the right is fundamental. If the judge decides the right is not fundamental, then the judge will allow the government to infringe on the right as long as it has a “rational” reason. But if the judge decides the right is fundamental, the government may infringe on the fundamental right only when there is a “compelling” reason to do so.
As of today, there is nothing in Nevada statutes or the state constitution enunciating that parental rights are in the category of fundamental rights. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that parental rights are fundamental. However, some lower courts and local government officials have resisted compliance with U.S. Supreme Court rulings on this issue. Although Nevada courts have generally been good in recognizing parental rights, it is risky to depend on future court decisions to safeguard a fundamental parental right. This is the problem SB 314 will solve; it will simply give much better protection to parental rights than currently exists in Nevada law.
Opponents of a parental rights law often incorrectly assume that it would give parents a right to abuse their children. This is incorrect. Parents don’t have a right to abuse or neglect their children under Nevada statute, and that will not change if SB 314 becomes law. Rather, this law will simply provide an additional layer of protection afforded through legislative enactment to safeguard parents and children from intrusion by the government into the decision making process within the family unit.
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