New Jersey
New Jersey

November 24, 2008

Senate Bill 2334: Giving Government Power to Usurp Parental Rights

Raymond Lesniak

The bill gives every child the right for the state government to decide what is best for him rather than the parent, effectively putting the government above parents on all child-rearing decisions.

10/27/2008Introduced, referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee

This bill failed to pass and is now dead.

HSLDA's Position:

Action Requested:
None at this time.

A bedrock principle of Western Civilization has been that parents are the ones who decide what is best for their own kids (except in unusual situations, like child abuse and divorce). This bill would turn thousands of years of common sense on its head and give every child the right to have the government be the final decision-maker on what is best for him—rather than his parents. This would be an astonishing destruction of liberty—and a dramatic increase of government power. Homeschooling would only be allowed if the government decided it was best for the child.

The bill is patterned very closely after the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and cites it as its source. While an individual state cannot adopt a treaty affecting the nation, it has the power to adopt state legislation that would accomplish essentially the same thing within that state.

The costs to New Jersey taxpayers would be phenomenal. It would be no surprise to see an entire new department of government created—complete with a vast bureaucracy and legions of salaried employees to bring enforcement to every lane and cul-de-sac. Every single family in the state would be subject to monitoring.

There are 4 major sections of the bill.

Section 1 says the bill shall be called the “New Jersey Children’s Bill of Rights.”"

Section 2 praises the UN Convention on the Right of the Child because, “…when enforced…” it will “…allow every child to reach his full potential… .” It says the state of New Jersey must recognize, protect and enforce every child’s right to have the government decide what is best for him. (The word “paramount” is used euphemistically. It means that the child’s right to have the government decide what is best for him is above the parent’s right to make decisions for the child.)

Section 3 contains a definition of “child”.

Section 4 itemizes specific rights for every child in 8 subsections:

(1) The right for the government to decide what is best for the child.

(2) The right to live with his parents unless the government decides it is not in his best interest.

(3) The right to be respected in a foster home after he has been taken away from his own family.

(4) The right for the government to respect his “identity.”

(5) The right for parents to be an authority in his life, but a lower authority than the government.

(6) The right to be free from even reasonable corporal discipline (i.e., ordinary spanking is outlawed), and any other type of discipline the government thinks would be “demeaning” or “humiliating”.

(7) The right to choose his own religion and sexual orientation without parental interference.

(8) The right to food, clothing, shelter, etc., thus giving the child the right to sue his parents if he thinks they are not giving him good enough food and clothes or a nice enough house.

Someone may argue that “best interest is already the standard”, so CBOR would not be much of a change. That’s an ignorant approach. The issue is not just what the standard is, but precisely how it is used. For example, when a parent today decides what is in his child’s best interest to wear, there is no appeal. The parents’ word is final, binding, non-appealable, and the end of the road. CBOR would give every child a chance to appeal literally every parental decision. Who would decide the appeal? Government agents. And their decision would then be binding on the parents.

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History

Konrad Decision ( requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

HSLDA UNCROC Analysis ( requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)