October 22, 2001

Social Worker Case Will Affect Family Privacy in Three States
HSLDA Files Amicus Brief to Protect Single Mom

On October 17, 2001, Home School Legal Defense Association filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of "Mary Roe." At issue is this mother's Fourteenth Amendment right to privacy-to be safe and secure in her home without fear of unwarranted government intrusion.

Earlier this year, a Texas Child Protective Services worker arrived at the Roe home to follow up on a report of suspected child abuse. The CPS worker began her investigation with a complete strip search of Mrs. Roe's 6-year-old and photographs of her entire body.

Only after she had completed the physical examination, did the social worker begin her verbal investigation. After thoroughly interviewing the child and finding no evidence of abuse, she declared the report "unfounded" and closed the investigation. But for Mrs. Roe and her daughter, the damage had already been done.

Mary Roe filed a civil rights suit against the social worker in federal court?. The CPS worker insisted that she was just conducting a "reasonable search." But the judge did not agree. Citing HSLDA's Ninth Circuit Court case, Calabretta v. Floyd, he ruled: "The Court fails to see how it is objectively reasonable-under any interpretation of the law at the time of the incident-for a social services caseworker to enter a home, proceed to examine and photograph . . . a young girl . . . without more information that would lead a caseworker to believe that the child was a victim of sexual abuse." Roe v. Strickland, No. 00 CA 456 SS (W.D. Tex., July 2, 2001).

The social worker immediately appealed the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court which covers Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The Roes asked HSLDA to file "a friend of the court" brief. Although Mrs. Roe is not an HSLDA member, we agreed because HSLDA has 5,500 member families in the Fifth Circuit. We believe true child abusers should and must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, but within the constraints of the Constitution.

 Other Resources

Texas-Cases : Mary Roe v. CPS