Should states be regulating the rights of parents to make childrearing decisions? Today on Home School Heartbeat, Mike Smith and HSLDA Attorney Jim Mason discuss a case involving Maine’s grandparent visitation statute, and how this could affect homeschooling parents in other states.
Jim, last time you gave us an update on a case HSLDA is litigating involving a member family facing unwanted visitation rights. How does a court decision in this case affect homeschoolers in other jurisdictions?
Mike, this case was brought in state court under Maine’s grandparent visitation statute, so the case will have no binding effect outside of Maine. But the interesting thing about this case is that the Maine statute was passed for the very purpose of allowing judges to decide whether a parent’s decision should give way to a grandparent’s wishes. Under the common law, parents’ decisions in this regard could not be brought to court. The Maine Supreme Court has previously interpreted the statute to favor parents’ rights because of a decision of the United States Supreme Court, Troxel v. Granville, which is one of the most important parental rights cases of recent times. In Troxel, the high court ruled that a fit parent’s right to make childrearing decisions was a fundamental right that could not be overridden by the legislatures or the courts. But many states have statutes that would appear to allow just that to happen. At HSLDA, a big part of our mission is to preserve and defend the right of parents to make educational and other choices about childrearing free from intrusive state regulation. We believe that these kinds of decisions have been entrusted to the jurisdiction of the moms and dads. They know their children better than anyone else and are better suited to decide what’s best for them than judges, legislatures, and even well-meaning grandparents.
Jim, thank you for explaining the effect of this case. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.