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Parental Rights: Fundamental or Not?
Volume 80, Program 13
2/6/2008
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Homeschoolers have enjoyed the freedom to educate their children for many years, but did you know the Constitution doesn’t explicitly guarantee that freedom? Today on Home School Heartbeat, Mike Farris explains why our freedom could be in danger.

Michael Farris:
Since the early 1920s, the Supreme Court has consistently held that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment should be interpreted to mean that the right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children is a fundamental right.

Because of the Court’s interpretation, the right legal standard is in place. But this protection is not grounded in the specific text of the Constitution; it rests only on what the Supreme Court has said.

There are several problems with relying on the Supreme Court’s interpretation for long-term protection of our rights.

First, lower courts do not consistently recognize parental rights as deserving the same legal protection as other fundamental rights such as freedom of speech.

Second, the number of votes on the Supreme Court favoring parental rights as a fundamental right is shrinking and may already be in the minority. In the most recent parental rights decision, only five justices argued that parental rights were fundamental. Two of these justices have since left the Court. It is unclear whether the new justices, Alito and Roberts, would favor parental rights. Even if they did, we should not rest our confidence for our future protection on a current five-to-four Supreme Court majority.

Clearly, we need stronger protection for our rights as parents than the past interpretation of the Supreme Court. I’m Mike Farris.


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