Friday, November 04, 2005

Ninth U.S. Circuit's Trampling of Parental Rights Outrages Pro-Family Crowd


Ninth U.S. Circuit's Trampling of Parental Rights Outrages Pro-Family Crowd

Panel's Siding With Schools in Sex Survey Case Seen as Judicial Activist Tyranny


By Jenni Parker

November 4, 2005


(AgapePress) - Pro-family leaders are disturbed and incensed over Wednesday's decision by an appellate court panel in San Francisco, which held that parents have "no fundamental right" to control their kids' upbringing by introducing them to sexual information "in accordance with their personal and religious values and beliefs." Nor, according to the panel, do mothers and fathers have the right to prevent their kids' exposure to sexual information whenever and however the school chooses. (See earlier story)


'The Circus Has Now Ruled ...'

The three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals informed six parents in California's Palmdale School District that they have "no fundamental right" to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sex to their children. It is a decision that the president and lead counsel of the pro-family firm Liberty Counsel describes as a declaration of war on parental rights.

A CitizenLink article yesterday (Nov. 3) quoted Staver as saying the Ninth Circuit ruling "essentially says that parents have no rights. Once you drop your kids off at school -- according to this court's decision -- you have severed all of your parental rights until you pick your kids up at the end of the day."


The plaintiffs in the case had sued the Palmdale School District for subjecting their children to a school survey without disclosing to the parents in advance that the survey contained probing personal questions of a sexual nature. However, the appellate court's Judge Stephen Reinhardt informed the plaintiffs in his ruling that "parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools ...."


A disgusted Staver commented, "Understand, these are seven-year-old children that are being asked intrusive and controversial and inappropriate questions about sexual behavior. And this judge says, 'That's okay.' Well, it's not okay!"


Nor was it okay, according to senior trial attorney Brian Fahling of the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy, for the Ninth Circuit panel to ignore the school district's deception in failing to disclose to parents that the surveys would expose their children to such questions. And the attorney says that was not the only thing the court chose not to take into consideration.


Fahling contends that the judge issuing the panel's opinion also failed to rely on law for the decision, citing instead a few cases that he attempted to make fit his predetermined conclusions. Under these circumstances, he says he finds the judges' ruling, as well as its implications, "deeply troubling," especially since it basically allows schools to expose children to whatever material they please while telling parents they cannot interfere.


Tony Perkins, president of the Washington, DC-based Family Research Council (FRC), calls the panel's ruling "infamous" and says it is hard to imagine any of those judges ever had young children. He notes that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is America's "most overruled circuit" and adds, "For off-the-wall liberalism, it has no peer."


'An Offensive Result That Must Be Overturned'

Appellate Judge Reinhardt himself has become known as one of the most overturned judges in history, and is the same jurist who ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional in a case brought by atheist activist Michael Newdow. Perkins is outraged but not surprised, as he puts it, to find the ultra-liberal judge playing "ringmaster to this out-of-control circus." This is a jurist who "thinks 'Under God' in the Pledge is unconstitutional, but sex surveys of seven-year-olds is not," the pro-family leader points out.


"The circus has now ruled that the Palmdale School District in California can ask first, third, and fifth graders intrusive questions," Perkins laments. Among the survey's questions were items querying the children about such things as touching their "private parts too much," not being able to stop "thinking about sex," and having "scared or upset" feelings when thinking about sex.


However, when the parents who felt ambushed by the school district brought suit, Judge Reinhardt "brought down the gavel on them," the FRC president says. He calls the Ninth Circuit panel's decision "one more horrible example of what happens to parents' rights when liberal judicial activists are unchecked."


Perkins says in this ruling the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals showed "nothing but contempt," not only for parental rights but for "a child's right to be a child." The court's decision, he asserts, is an "outrageous and offensive result" that must be overturned.


Bruce Hausknecht, a judicial analyst for Focus on the Family Action, agrees that the ruling in the Palmdale parent's suit sets a terrible precedent. He says unless this "egregious example of judicial tyranny" is corrected, the rights of parents and the entire future of public education are in serious jeopardy.

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