I have recently posted about grandparents’ rights and the U.S. Supreme court case of Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000). That case arguably limited grandparents’ rights to a degree by striking down a broadly-worded Washington state statute that gave state courts wide latitude to award third party visitation rights over parental objections, based on a “best interests of the children” standard.
However, the flip side of Troxel is that the Court showed its ongoing unwavering commitment to protecting parental rights, which it has long upheld as a fundamental liberty interest deserving of the highest legal protection. Along these lines the Court stated:
In subsequent cases we have recognized the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children�Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 232, 32 L. Ed. 2d 15, 92 S. Ct. 1526 (1972) (“The history and culture of Western civilization reflect a strong tradition of parental concern for the nurture and upbringing of their children. This primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition”); Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U.S. 246, 255, 54 L. Ed. 2d 511, 98 S. Ct. 549 (1978) (“We have recognized on numerous occasions that the relationship between parent and child is constitutionally protected”); Parham v. J. R., 442 U.S. 584, 602, 61 L. Ed. 2d 101, 99 S. Ct. 2493 (1979) (“Our jurisprudence historically has reflected Western civilization concepts of the family as a unit with broad parental authority over minor children. Our cases have consistently followed that course”); Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 753, 71 L. Ed. 2d 599, 102 S. Ct. 1388 (1982) (discussing “the fundamental liberty interest of natural parents in the care, custody, and management of their child”); Glucksberg, supra, at 720 (“In a long line of cases, we have held that, in addition to the specific freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights, the ‘liberty’ specially protected by the Due Process Clause includes the right … to direct the education and upbringing of one’s children” (citing Meyer and Pierce)). In light of this extensive precedent, it cannot now be doubted that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.
It would not be an exaggeration to state that the work of child rearing by devoted parents is one of the basic building blocks of Western Civilization.
It is certainly reassuring for parents to know that the highest Court in the land consistently holds in the highest esteem their fundamental right to direct the upbringing of their children.