December 12, 2014

HSLDA Argues before the Ninth Circuit

Senior Counsel Jim Mason is a member of HSLDA’s litigation team, which helps homeschool families who are facing legal challenges. He and his wife homeschool.
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Over nine years ago, two social worker investigators from Arizona Child Protective Services stood outside the Loudermilks’ home and demanded entrance. The investigators told the family that if they were not allowed to enter the home, they would remove the Loudermilks’ children and place them in foster care.

On Friday, December 12, 2014, HSLDA litigation attorney James Mason argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the social workers should be held responsible for their actions.

What Happened

A neighbor’s false, anonymous tip was two months old before the investigators’ visit to the Loudermilk family. When they arrived, the Loudermilks were cooperative in letting the social workers see their children, but decided not to let the social workers into their home without a warrant. HSLDA attorney Tj Schmidt confirmed over the phone that the Loudermilks’ decision was within their Fourth Amendment rights.

But the investigators responded, threatening to take the Loudermilks’ children unless the investigators were allowed to enter the home. After an hour, when the social workers started to fill out paperwork to take the children, Mr. and Mrs. Loudermilk opened their home to protect their children from being seized.

After a five-minute inspection, the investigators left, confirming that the report was false.

HSLDA Sues

HSLDA sued the social workers, arguing that any reasonable official would have known there was no probable cause to seize the children based on a two-month-old anonymous tip. On December 12, 2014, James Mason, HSLDA’s director of litigation, presented that argument to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

The three-judge panel exhibited a good deal of familiarity with the facts of the case, and they expressed great reservations with the tactics used by CPS to gain access. Mason compared those tactics to the ones used in the Calabretta case, which HSLDA won.

“We are hopeful that the Court of Appeals will uphold the Loudermilks’ constitutional right to the integrity of their home and their family,” said Mason. “It is an honor to be able to represent homeschooling families as they stand up for their rights.”

A decision from the Ninth Circuit is expected sometime next year.