Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Who Determines What Your Children Eat?


I found a really cool article about how family meals--and family involvement in planning and preparing meals--helps children stay healthy and avoid dangerous behaviors. I found this very interesting, and wanted to pass it along to you.

To briefly summarize, parents have an amazing impact on how their children eat. Thus their outlook on food, their choice of diet, etc. will affect their children. It also mentions, however, how sharing family meals decreases substantially the chance of using illicit drugs, gang activity, and smoking. I've mentioned this before (you can read it here), so feel free to brush up on that article for more information. But all of this raises the question, "If we want to provide the best environment for our children, how should we be eating?"

Do we need to cut out all hamburgers? No, I don't think so. But emphasizing the importance of also eating healthy foods as part of a balanced, healthy diet should also be present. And that's not asking too much, is it?

Let's set a good example for them, shall we?


Monday, September 27, 2010

What Is Your Doctor Asking Your Child?


When your child goes to the doctor, there's usually a time when you are asked to step out of the room. At some medical institutions, a questionnaire of some sort is then given to your child.

I want to say upfront that these questionnaires are not inherently evil. They were not (I hope) designed by someone who hates the family and wants to see the privacy and realm of the American family destroyed. That said, there are some aspects of these questionnaires which make me wary.

Here's a good example: a survey from Utah Valley Pediatrics, which is used across the country (a friend of mine in Pennsylvania showed it to me). The purpose of the surveys, according to its creators, is to help to address problems with domestic violence, low self-esteem, ADHD, etc. They have a number of surveys and guides for parents also available at their website.

What worries me about this questionnaire, designed for children ages 14 and up, is that it asks questions related to personal health, hygiene, and psychological development, but also intrudes into other areas which are not strictly the realm of doctors--in fact, there is little a doctor could do to help in some of these areas.

For example, why do they ask, "Are your grades this year worse than last year?" While I can understand wanting to feel for low self-esteem, there are other places where they do that effectively. Why is this so necessary?

They ask questions like, "Do you or anyone you live with have a gun, rifle, or other firearm," and ask in the same question, "Are you worried about violence or your safety?" Again, I can see a feasible example of where this could be important, but why include the question regarding gun possession, as if there was an automatic connection between the two?

I am afraid that questionnaires like this, administered to children generally instead of upon suspicion of abuse or the like, are being used in a way that conflicts with parental rights. This must change.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Threat of the CRC Article


Check out this article from FamilySecurityMatters.Org. It's a very good analysis of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), including talking points from Phyllis Schafly of Eagle Forum.


Friday, September 3, 2010

The Centaur Scrolls: Parental Rights and International Law


I’ve often mentioned international law on this blog, but I want to spend a little more time discussing some of its finer points. This article will be rather long, somewhat tedious (unless you enjoy this stuff, in which case I say, more power to you), and very dry. But it is important to fully understand the threats facing parental rights today.

International agreements and treaties threaten to tell us as Americans how we should rule our country. While many see treaties as harmless documents purporting altruism and goodwill, the truth is that with each treaty comes an obligation to enforce it in our nation. Dr. Michael P. Farris, who holds a J.D. from Gonzaga University, and is pursuing an LLM in international law from the University of London, writes that “under the most basic rule of international law, every nation that becomes a party to a treaty is obligated to perform the duties that it assumes under the terms of the treaty. Moreover, under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, every treaty is superior to all internal law—including the nation’s constitution—with one important exception.” We will address the exception in a moment. But first, there is a critical element of international law which must be understood in order to aptly understand this exception.

When America supports a treaty, we are noting supporting a fixed document. When we sign a treaty, we agree to uphold not only the text and meaning of the treaty when we signed it, but also any additional amendments and new meanings which may follow. Treaties today are not strict documents agreed to by other nations, but conventions—groups of individuals who determine the meaning and extent of the treaty—which routinely expand in their scope and demands over the course of time.

While international agreements have a role—and an important role—in our world, this should not include taking away the ability of state lawmakers to make decisions on family law. When we sign a treaty, we give a portion of our legislative power to a group of foreigners who have probably never studied our constitutional law, possibly never visited our shores, and most certainly have not studied our state child protection laws. The child protection laws on the books in the fifty states are exceptional at providing protection for children. Signing a treaty, rightly understood, is a huge concession of state legislative power to a foreign entity.

So what is the exception? A nation may sign a treaty with any number of Reservations, Understandings, or Declarations (RUDs), which may exempt, clarify the interpretation of the article from the perspective of the signatory state, and affirm important principles which may apply to the treaty in question. The difficulty with RUDs, however, is twofold.

First, nations are consistently pressured to remove RUDs at the expense of local legislators. Once the treaty is signed, a 2/3 majority of a legislative body is not required to approve of a rescinding order for an RUD; all that is required is the executive’s signature. Thus, the ability to make laws transfers from the legislative to the executive.

The second dilemma is that RUDs are not always recognized in international law. The International Court of Justice is not required to honor an RUD. According to Article 19 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, “A State may, when signing, ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding to a treaty, formulate a reservation unless . . . the reservation is incompatible with the object and purpose of the treaty.” Prof. Louis Henkin, in the American Journal of International Law, notes that since all reservations are designed as opt-out statements for specific clauses of a treaty, all reservations, at least to some extent, are “incompatible with the object and purpose of the treaty,” since “the object and purpose of the human rights conventions, it would seem, are to promote respect for human rights by having countries—mutually—assume legal obligations to respect and ensure recognized rights in accordance with international standards” (Louis Henkin, U.S. Ratification of Human Rights Conventions: The Ghost of Senator Bricker, The American Journal of International Law, Vol 89 No 2, 343-344 (Apr. 1995)). While we certainly should respect and ensure recognized rights, an international agreement which can change from year to year without legislative approval is not the way to accomplish this aim. That is the role of our elected representatives.

So what is the solution? How do we both respect the rights of states to set child protection laws, while meeting the domestic threats to parental rights? The answer is an amendment to the US Constitution. According to the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, the Constitution stands on equal footing with treaties. In the realm of international law, however, a provision in the Constitution which expressly touches on a subject of customary international law is considered to be overriding and preeminent. In effect, the Amendment would serve as the ultimate reservation on any treaty regarding parental rights.


Scotland: Free Expression on the Internet


Here's an article I found today on WorldNet Daily; it's a shocking article, although we here at the Insurgency have seen it coming for quite some time. In Scotland, the internet filters in Scotland on school grounds are being lifted, so that now children can view sexually explicit material on the internet while at school.

But this is not all: the article continues:

"It was uncovered a few months ago that Scottish children as young as 11 were being taken on outings to various "health" clinics where they were being given instruction in abortion, contraception and homosexuality by other students as young as 14."

Now, religious conviction regarding marriage and family planning aside, why are eleven-year-olds being taught this information? And why are fourteen-year-olds involved in the teaching? Something is wrong here!

I wish that I could say that this is all, but the article continues:

"Health officials in the Southampton area also recently created Charlie Condom, a character who promotes condoms to 13-year-olds."

Why use cartoon characters? Because they appeal to young audiences.

Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean that I'm not being followed; something is wrong here. The internationalist agenda is targeting a young audience with a message, primarily because they know that they cannot win the older generations who know the truth. So they turn to education.

Is this what we want in our country? Will we only be reactionary, or will we take an active role in defending our country? Visit www.parentalrights.org today, and get involved in protecting our nation now.


The Centaur Scrolls: The Legal Argument for Parental Rights, Part IV


This post will tell of the blow that swiftly and deftly sliced the ancient pillars which protected parental rights in our legal system. I’m no “tree hugger,” but the cutting of these ancient towers down brought me sorrow.

In the year 2000, the traditional defense of parental rights disappeared. In Troxel v. Granville, the Supreme Court demonstrated that it was completely confused on the standard of protection for parental rights. Three points display the confusion well.

First, the Court was dramatically fragmented in its decision. In no less than six different opinions, the Court turned to almost every possible standard for measuring parental rights under the sun. No more than four justices agreed on any one decision, making it a plurality decision.

Second, the long train of parental rights protection which we have previously discussed was noted, mentioned, but not followed by five of the six opinions. Only Justice Clarence Thomas turned to Meyer et al. in making his decision.

How did this happen? We don’t know. But we are already seeing its effects.

The indecision of the court has led to lower court decisions which threaten the longstanding tradition of protecting parental rights. In Blair v. Badenhope, 77 S.W.3d 137 (2002), the Tennessee Supreme Court refused to use the strict scrutiny test for its decision on denying a parent custody of his child. Not only did they refuse to use the strict scrutiny test, they didn’t even mention it! Where did this freedom come from? The Court refused to use it in Troxel.

In 2005, the Maryland Supreme Court also refused to use strict scrutiny for parental rights, even though they cite Troxel where it defends parental rights as a fundamental right. What this indicates is that even if parental rights are viewed as fundamental, they may not receive the legal protection due a fundamental right. The protection we have enjoyed for so long is fading fast. Case in point: we cannot rely on the courts for the protection and preservation of parental rights.

So what is the solution? How do we both respect the rights of states to set child protection laws, while meeting the domestic threats to parental rights? The answer is an amendment to the US Constitution. Judges within our nation are under oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, meaning that they must consult a Parental Rights Amendment as a preliminary and primary resource for their analysis. The Amendment’s text would solve the confusion of the Supreme Court in Troxel, and return us to the proper standard for protection found in Yoder, Pierce, Meyer, Prince, and Sherbert among others. The rights of parents are protected, while the rights of the government to intervene in cases of child abuse and child neglect are still upheld.



Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Centaur Scrolls: The Legal Argument for Parental Rights, Part III


In a previous post, I demonstrated the past precedent for parental rights, up until 1972. There are a number of other useful cases (Prince v. Massachusetts, Quilloin v. Walcott, and Santosky v. Kramer among others) that were mentioned subsequently, but Meyer, Pierce, and Yoder summarize the issue succinctly.

What I didn’t mention in those cases, however, was the standard of review for rights that are fundamental in nature, such as parental rights. I want to take some time now to do that.

In Wisconsin v. Yoder, Justice Burger draws on the principle which has provided the protection for parental rights over the centuries: the standard of protection for fundamental rights. Citing back to Sherbert v. Verner in 1963, Prince v. Massachusetts in 1944, and other cases, Justice Burger writes that only “those interests of the highest order and those not otherwise served” are compelling enough to justify limiting a fundamental right.

What does this phrase, “[government] interests of the highest order and those not otherwise served,” mean?

First, it is very specific. In order for the government to have a “compelling governmental interest of the highest order,” the government must prove that there is a situation which threatens an important government priority. This “compelling governmental interest” is not defined as “a whim of the government,” or “a passing fancy in domestic policy.” A “compelling governmental interest” must be a fundamental function of government essential to its role as governor.

A compelling interest “not otherwise served” is an interest which can only be accomplished by limiting the right. This is important: if there is another means of accomplishing the task at hand, the government is obligated to pursue that alternate option instead of limiting the fundamental right. This was the standard for restricting parental rights laid out in Yoder.

A case study is helpful in understanding this otherwise vague and abstract theory. In the case of parental rights, child abuse and child neglect have routinely been upheld as compelling interests of the highest order (protecting citizens) not otherwise served (the only way to protect the victim is to remove him/her from the home environment, and specifically from the abusive parent). All that is required for law enforcement to rightly limit parental rights is to have proof of abuse—the usual requirement for removal of a child from his home.

We uphold state child protection laws with this standard already; the only thing that changes under the Amendment are cases involving the prosecution of parents in which no evidence of child abuse exists, and those parents shouldn’t be tried for abuse in the first place.

The important thing to realize about strict scrutiny test is that by 1972, parental rights were very well-protected. They looked as if they would never need further defense, since they were adequately defended by both the Supreme Court and state lawmakers. The next article will tell you how all of that changed.


The Centaur Scrolls: The Legal Argument for Parental Rights, Part II


In the last scroll I wrote to you about the precedent of the Court up through its 1972 decision in Wisconsin v. Yoder. Now I want to take you from 1972 up until the turn of the century, so that you will catch a glimpse of just how often the Court had protected parental rights (since we will not examine every case that they ruled in favor of parental rights). This will set us up nicely for the shocking truth in the next article, regarding the dramatic and abrupt turn away from protecting parental rights in Troxel v. Granville.

In 1978, the Supreme Court in Quilloin v. Walcott upheld its decision in Prince v. Massachusetts (1944), where they stated that “It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents.” Both Prince and Quilloin tied back to Meyer and Pierce, which were discussed in the last scroll. The Quilloin decision followed on the heels of Smith v. Organization of Foster Families in 1977, where the Court stated that “the liberty interest in family privacy has its source, and its contours are ordinarily to be sought, not in state law, but in intrinsic human rights.”

The 1980s saw even greater protection for parental rights. Citing back to Stanley v. Illinois, in Lassiter v. Dept. of Social Services in 1981, the Court held that “this Court's decisions have by now made plain . . . that a parent's desire for and right to ‘the companionship, care, custody, and management of his or her children’ is an important interest that ‘undeniably warrants deference and, absent a powerful countervailing interest, protection.’” In 1982, Justice Blackmun described parental rights as constituting a “fundamental liberty interest” in Santosky v. Kramer, and that these rights have a “critical need for procedural protections” because of this liberty interest. And again, both Lassiter and Santosky ties back to Meyer and Pierce.

In M.L.B. v. SL.J. in 1996, the Court also defended the rights of parents, stating that “choices about marriage, family life, and the upbringing of children are among associational rights this Court has ranked as ‘of basic importance in our society,’” tying back to Boddie v. Connecticut in 1971. In all of these cases, parental rights were protected as fundamental rights.

Now, I know that there were a lot of cases suddenly thrust upon you, so this is what I want you to take away: there is a longstanding, highly respected history for the protection of parental rights dating back to two central cases: Meyer and Pierce. When the Supreme Court (or any lower court) faces a question regarding how much protection should be given to parental rights, there is a long tradition of protection which should not be ignored. For over seventy years, the Court was very clear on the standard for parental rights were: it’s a fundamental right, deserving strict scrutiny (which we will discuss later).

Why did I take all of this time laying out the issue? There are myriad cases which were not addressed in this or the preceding article – why do we write so much about it? Because everything changed in the year 2000, and no one knows why. But that is a discussion for another day.