Originally Sent: 2/10/2014

From the HSLDA e-lert service…
Home School Legal Defense Association

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Please Call Now to Protect Parenting

Homeschooling in Missouri

Help defend parental rights.

Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff answers questions and assists members with legal issues in your state. He and his wife homeschooled their children.

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

We tend to take it for granted that we as parents have the right to rear our children and make decisions about their upbringing. But because of troubling recent court rulings, we can no longer take this for granted.

To protect the traditional rights of parents in Missouri, it’s vital that the Missouri Legislature pass a law specifically protecting those rights. While there are many laws on the books that detail the responsibilities and duties of parents, amazingly not a single statute delineates their rights!

HB 1488 fills this gap. The bill faces a hearing this Wednesday.

Action Requested

(1) Please use this Legislative Toolbox to find out who your Missouri state representative is (be sure to enter your ZIP Code!)

(2) If your representative is listed below, please call today or Tuesday and ask him or her to support HB 1488 (or just thank him if he is listed as a co-sponsor). Your message can be as simple as: “Please vote yes on HB 1488. The time for silence is over. The rights of parents need to be protected by statute, not left to the whim of judges.”

This bill will protect the rights of all parents, so it is not necessary to identify yourself as a homeschooler.

Contact Information

Rep. Stanley Cox, committee chair 573-751-9774
Rep. Kevin Elmer, committee vice-chair 573-751-3833
Rep. Mike Colona 573-751-6736
Rep. Robert Cornejo 573-751-1484
Rep. Rory Ellinger - Co-Sponsor 573-751-4265
Rep. Elijah Haahr - Co-Sponsor 573-751-2210
Rep. Galen Higdon 573-751-3643
Rep. Chris Kelly 573-751-4189
Rep. Mike Leara 573-751-2150
Rep. Nick Marshall 573-751-6593
Rep. Gina Mitten 573-751-2883
Rep. Todd Richardson 573-751-4039


The right of a parent to raise his child according to his best judgment was unquestioned in America until 2000. In that year the U.S. Supreme Court for the first time refused to treat the rights of parents as on par with our other most precious rights. The court refused to treat parents’ rights as fundamental.

Since that time, many courts around the country have moved toward downgrading parental rights—largely because state legislatures have failed to do their job of protecting the rights of parent citizens with clear legislation.

The time for silence is over. The Missouri Legislature needs to say loud and clear that parental rights are worth protecting and not leave it up to the whim of judges.

There are three types of rights: absolute, fundamental, and ordinary.

If a right is “absolute,” the government can do absolutely nothing to restrict it—like the right to choose a faith.

The rights of parents have never been considered absolute. The battle today is over whether your rights as a parent are “ordinary” or “fundamental.”

If a right is fundamental (like the right to move within a state, or to a different state, or procreation) a government agency can restrict it only if it has a super good reason. Sometimes this is called a “compelling” reason, or a reason “of the highest order.” To protect parenting as we and generations of Americans have known it, it’s crucial that parental rights continue to be treated as “fundamental.”

If a right is “ordinary” (e.g., the right to run a business, or drive a car, or get government assistance, or practice a trade or profession), any government agency can put restrictions on it as long as the restriction is arguably “rational.”

Since it’s laughably easy to prove that a government restriction is “rational,” courts almost always uphold restrictions that government agencies place on the ordinary rights of people. The government wins. The person with the right loses.

HB 1488 doesn’t give you any new rights. It simply requires government agencies to honor the rights you already have at the traditional level of protection—the level accorded other fundamental rights.

Some will argue that HB 1488 will let parents abuse their kids. This is false. The bill gives you no new rights. You don’t have a right to abuse your kids now; you won’t after it becomes law.

Some may argue that it will destroy the “best interest” rule. The starting point on this issue is that parents are presumed to act in the best interests of their children (per the U.S. Supreme Court). But in situations where judges have authority to make rulings about children, they must do what is in the best interests of the child. HB 1488 won’t change that. In fact, the “best interest” concept itself was created during a period of our history when everyone agreed that parents’ rights were fundamental. There is no inconsistency.

We have over a century of experience of knowing what it means for your rights to be fundamental. And during that century, laws prohibiting abuse and neglect functioned exactly as intended even with parental rights being fundamental. There is simply no rational reason to think that would change with HB 1488.

HB 1488 will not upset current custody or adoption orders. Even when parental rights are fundamental, courts still have power to enter custody orders when custody of a child is in dispute. And courts still have power to terminate the rights of parents (like for adoption), if it is done according to law. HB 1488 will not change that.

HB 1488 will not let parents dictate curriculum to public schools. Even when parental rights are fundamental, schools still have nearly unfettered discretion in deciding what to teach. In Fields v. Palmdale School District, a federal court of appeals held that parents’ fundamental rights “do not entitle individual parents to enjoin school boards from providing information the boards determine to be appropriate” to students.

Some will argue that we should just let “common law” keep on developing as it has. But this ignores the fact that the reason governments exist in the first place is to protect our rights (just read the Declaration of Independence). It’s only when the legislature abdicates its duty to protect our rights that the job by default falls back into the lap of the courts. Yes, if the legislature is silent, the courts will fill the void with their own opinions. But that is the least democratic way to address the issue of rights.

Thank you for standing with us for freedom!

Sincerely Yours,

Scott A. Woodruff, Esq.
Senior Counsel, HSLDA

P.S. We greatly value you and your support—it is a privilege to serve you! If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider taking a moment today to join or recommend us? Your support enables us to defend individual families threatened by government officials and protect homeschooling freedom for all. Join now >>

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