United States Supreme Court Parental Rights CaseLaw


United States Supreme Court

Parental Rights Caselaw

 


In the early 1920s, the United States Supreme Court first reviewed the rights, liberties and obligations of parents to direct the upbringing of their children. Two important decisions, Meyer v. Nebraska and Pierce v. Society of Sisters, established a legacy which was followed by a series of decisions holding that parenting is a fundamental constitutional right, and among “the basic civil rights of man.”Choices about marriage, family life, and the upbringing of children are among those rights the Court has ranked as “of basic importance in our society,” and as sheltered by the 14th Amendment against the State’s unwarranted usurpation, disregard, or disrespect.

Assembled here are a majority of those cases defining or reaffirming these fundamental rights. Links are provided to each case on the FindLaw Internet Legal Resources service. Each is in hypertext format, with links to related opinions of the court contained in the ruling.

 


M. L. B. v. S. L. J.
___ US ___, 117 S. Ct. 555 (1996)

    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,” rights sheltered by the 14th Amendment against the State’s unwarranted usurpation, disregard, or disrespect. This case, involving the State’s authority to sever permanently a parent-child bond, demanded the close consideration the Court has long required when a family association so undeniably important was at stake.

     

Santosky v Kramer
455 US 745 (1982)

    The fundamental liberty interest of natural parents in the care, custody, and management of their child is protected by the 14th Amendment, and does not evaporate simply because they have not been model parents or have lost temporary custody of their child to the State. A parental rights termination proceeding interferes with that fundamental liberty interest. When the State moves to destroy weakened familial bonds, it must provide the parents with fundamentally fair procedures.

     

Lassiter v Department of Social Services
452 US 18 (1981)

    The 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.” A parent’s interest in the accuracy and justice of the decision to terminate his or her parental status is, therefore, a commanding one.

     

Quilloin v Walcott
434 US 246 (1978)

    We have little doubt that the Due Process Clause would be offended “if a State were to attempt to force the breakup of a natural family, over the objections of the parents and their children, without some showing of unfitness and for the sole reason that to do so was thought to be in the children’s best interest.” Whatever might be required in other situations, we cannot say that the State was required in this situation to find anything more than that the adoption, and denial of legitimation, were in the “best interests of the child.”

     

Smith v Organization of Foster Care Families
431 US 816 (1977)

    In this action, individual foster parents and a foster parents organization, sought declaratory and injunctive relief against New York State and New York City officials, alleging that the statutory and regulatory procedures for removal of foster children from foster homes violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment. The ruling contains an analysis of the rights of natural parents as balanced against the rights of foster parents, as well as a comprehensive discussion of foster care conditions.

     

Moore v East Cleveland
431 US 494 (1977)

    The Court has long recognized that freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. A host of cases, tracing their lineage to Meyer v. Nebraska and Pierce v. Society of Sisters have consistently acknowledged a “private realm of family life which the state cannot enter.” When the government intrudes on choices concerning family living arrangements, the Court must examine carefully the importance of the governmental interests advanced.

     

Cleveland Board of Education v La Fleur
414 US 632 (1974)

    The Court has long recognized that freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. There is a right “to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.”

     

Stanley v Illinois
405 US 645 (1972)

    The private interest here, that of a man in the children he has sired and raised, undeniably warrants deference and protection. The integrity of the family unit has found protection in the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, and the 9th Amendment.

     

Wisconsin v Yoder
406 US 205 (1972)

    In this case involving the rights of Amish parents to provide for private schooling of their children, the Court held: “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.”

     

Loving v Virginia
388 US 1 (1967)

    In this case involving interracial marriage, the Court reaffirmed the principles set forth in Pierce and Meyers, finding that marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man, fundamental to our very existence and survival. “The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.”

     

Griswold v Connecticut
381 US 479 (1965)

    The 4th and 5th Amendments were described as protection against all governmental invasions “of the sanctity of a man’s home and the privacies of life.” The Court referred to the 4th Amendment as creating a “right to privacy, no less important than any other right carefully and particularly reserved to the people.” Reaffirming the principles set forth in Pierce v. Society of Sisters and Meyers v Nebraska.

     

Prince v Massachusetts
321 US 158 (1944)

    It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder. And it is in recognition of this that these decisions have respected the private realm of family life which the state cannot enter.

     

Skinner v Oklahoma
316 US 535 (1942)

    “We are dealing here with legislation which involves one of the basic civil rights of man. Marriage and procreation are fundamental to the very existence and survival of the race.”

     

Pierce v Society of Sisters
268 US 510 (1925)

    The liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children was abridged by a proposed statute to compell public education. “The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”

     

Meyer v Nebraska
262 US 390 (1923)

    “No state … shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law.””While this court has not attempted to define with exactness the liberty thus guaranteed, the term has received much consideration and some of the included things have been definitely stated. Without doubt, it denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint but also the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”

     

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

24 Responses to United States Supreme Court Parental Rights CaseLaw

  1. Pingback: ne credit repair

  2. Barbara says:

    Thank you. I need to know my rights as a parent. It’s vitally important in combating cps fraudulent schemes to rip families apart.

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  3. As you read these, it is important to know that each state varies in their individual decisions and the case law they base decisions on. There is no “standard” parental rights law nationwide.

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    • Actually, our parental rights are guaranteed in the US constitution that is valid in every state and every US Supreme Ct case challenging states and families. Parents need to stop fooling with bad state laws and demand their constitutional rights of due process at the very least. These are violated daily by CPS in every state

      Liked by 1 person

  4. teresa gearhart says:

    not only did they take our children outta of the home at 2am. then went and called our dr. which refuses to see us now, because they didnt approve of 1 of the many meds we take. we are an older couple and cant go without our meds. the dr. refuses to see us now. please help me to understand why or how they can call our family dr. and also how he can speak to them about us

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  5. DavidOlson333 says:

    Thank you!

    Like

  6. kathleen haberkamp says:

    I lost my kids to cps thay led me on to thanking my dadys is comeing home and had them thanking thay is comeing home but in 2nd time thay whont to work on trmonat my rights and agen thay contioned to led us to thank my babys is comeing home but 3rd time thay wont to go on with the trmonnat my rights so be for the last cort day thay did the same theng on 7_2_2011 the was going to geve me my babys cps workers ded not want the gugage to geve me my babys back so my rights ar gone can you help me plase my dabys need me

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  7. Krystal Glover says:

    This information allows me to believe that there is some hope for families- ealing with cps or dhs. my grand daughter was removed from my hom
    e several months ago.
    Their reasons were :
    1, we had no airconditiong.
    2. The kitchen sink didn’t have a faucet yet.
    3. There was a section of sheetrock that had been removed due to water damage and needed replaced. this was cosmetic.
    And here we are 4 months later and they. won’t give me visits because i am het grandmother

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  8. Pingback: United States Supreme Court Parental Rights CaseLaw | Self Help: Fighting CPS

  9. Daniel Coleman says:

    My brother and his ex-wife, both uneducated and indigent, are in the final stages of possibly lo sing their parental rights within the lower courts, in the State of Georgia. From the beginning of their two children being placed in foster care, my brother has not received adequate legal representation or guidance from his court appointed attorneys. Just recently, since the beginning of June 2013, a new attorney was appointed to represent my brother during the termination rights process. The new appointed attorney has not yet taken any actions to help defend or protect my brother’s parental rights. The attorney’s response is that he “can not change the past.” As the new appointed attorney, this individual is making no effort in helping my brother. For example; this attorney is not adequately cross-examining any witnesses testifying against him, not adequately making any objections on record, and not adequately providing legal advice. But the most disturbing point is that this appointed attorney is allowing my brother to hang himself on the witness stand. With this said, this appointed attorney allowed my brother to take the witness stand without informing him on the pros and cons (Constitutional Rights) of doing so. The lawyer, on behalf of the social workers, is asking my brother self-incriminating questions and brother’s lawyer is allowing this form of questioning to continue without making any objections on record. Based on my observation, this attorney is not fulfilling his ethical or fudiciary responsibilities of properly representing my brother. Additionally, it appears that my brother’s appointed attorney is working with the courts to terminate my brother’s parental rights. The next continued court date is set for mid July 2013 and my brother still needs to be cross-examined by his appointed attorney, his ex-wife’s attorney, and the children’s attorney. In conclusion, there are numerous other legal issues that are not being adequately addressed in the court. Additionally, there appear to be political issues regarding the entire court procedure. Therefore, no one is willing to get involved in this matter. As his brother, I am helping him reach out by writing this summarized narrative on his behalf. If there is anyone out there listening, please help!

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    • wordpress davidolson333: Yes, that is exactly how they Traffick Children. If you want to fight them, like I and the rest of us are, you will have to really play hardball. What is the current status?

      Like

    • mark says:

      He doesn’t appear to work with the court. He does work with the court.

      “Stop Family and Superior Courts from ignoring the existence of Parental Alienation during divorce and visitation proceedings. Parental Alienation emotionally destroys children, ruins child-parent relationships and often ends in murder. Click here to sign the petition.

      http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/parental-alienation-is?source=s.em.mt&r_by=12772337

      Thanks!

      Like

    • Delisse Jones says:

      i have and am dealing with the same sort of situation in my case and even with all the research and try to learn how and what to do for myself i’m seemingly feeling more and more confused, If nobody wants or can help those of us who really truly need it then why cant anyone of you at least but what we need to know how to and etc in plain simple format from step one to step done so we can help ourselves rather then putting it out there all confusing and scattered making it that harder for us to do anything…….

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  10. Concerned Family Member says:

    My brother and his ex-wife recently lost their parental rights. The Judge that made this decision placed their older child with my mother 13 years ago. The Judge did this when she was an attorney working for DFCS. I am not sure, but this appears to have been a conflict-of-issue, which the judge should have recused herself. Beginning next week there will be a disposition hearing pertaining to the other two younger children. My brother and his ex-wife wants their children living with family members, preferably my wife and I who live out of state. DFCS is opposed of this although they initiated an ICPC package for a Home Evaluation. In my opinion, they are trying cover their tracks by now following protocol. Their only flaw is that they did not expect my wife and I to come forward on behalf of my niece and nephew. Although the children have written a letter saying they want to live with my family, their attorney is opposed of letting them come in front of the courts. With all this said, I hired a local attorney to present me. His law firm is within the same community of the court. He initially said he will fight for us, but now he is saying we should not upset the courts. Instead, we must appear to be liked by the courts being their is no longer a Georgia requirement for the children to be placed with family members. In others words, we must cooperate and get on their good side. Therefore, my attorney does not want to play hardball, or offend the courts or DFCS. It appears he is now scared. This may be due to the small community ties which he must continue maintaining a working relationship with these individuals long after I am gone. This I do understand, but it does not appear that he is truly fulfilling his fiduciary duties to represent us as his clients. I have tried contacting other attorneys out the jurisdictions of this small community, but no one is willing to take on this case. Why are these attorneys unwilling to fight DFCS. I feel like this is a battle that can not be won. At the end, the children will suffer by being adopted outside of family. This is wrong; I feel like no one is listening or care. I am running out of time, resources, and money. What can I do? Please, I am begging and praying that someone hears the voice of the children.

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    • you must educate yourself…first place to look is barton law clinic where you can print a “parent attorney manual” then demand in writing that your attorney do as the manual says
      (supreme court authorized this manual for parents).do this asap this week. time is not on your side. if your attorney refuses, then file with the court for “ineffective counsel’ . Demand the court assign the children their own ‘attorney” who does their wishes —NOT an ad litem or casa. They are guaranteed by the class action suit ‘kenny a v . georgia gov perdue” to have both a casa/adlitem(they are the same and represent the judge and dfcs not the child) AND their own personal attorney from another county/district. do not accept one from the same county. Call office of family representation in atl GA FOR referral for the children or call legal aid of ga for one. Do everything IN WritinG, EVEN to your lawyer and buy a 30 dollar recorder and record everybody without their knowledge. just make sure
      you are part of the conversation you are recording…all legal…

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    • mark says:

      Don’t do it. Children have become commodity in the state of GA. Fire him and get you an attorney that doesn’t work in their jurisdiction. Read my story before it happens to you.

      http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/parental-alienation-is?source=s.em.mt&r_by=12772337

      Like

  11. Losing the Fight. says:

    My brother and exwife received their parental rights termination documents in a Georgia court two days ago. On record, the requested that my and I be allowed to adopt their two children. The case worker wants the children adopted by the foster mom who previously divorced while the children were in their custody. There has been past allegations of physical and mental abuse during their marriage. From the witness stand, no one has any knowledge pertaining to their divorce circumstances. I suppose their marital problems began and ended in one day with hugs & kisses. With this said the know everything about my , background. My paid attorneys does not specialize in CPS cases. Therefore I am fearing of losing this case. This entire matter appears to justify Nancy Schaefer’s argument against CPS. My only problem is that this case is draining my pockets with attorney fees and travel expenses. I need experts in the court room with me & financial support to keep up the fight. I do not know how go to get this message out for the world to see. Their has to be a way to stop this power abuse of the legal system. I need help to save my niece and nephew. What else can I do?

    Like

  12. Losing the Fight. says:

    My brother and exwife received their parental rights termination documents in a Georgia court two days ago. On record, they requested that my and I be allowed to adopt their two children. The case worker wants the children adopted by the foster mom who previously divorced while the children were in their custody. There has been past allegations of physical and mental abuse during their marriage. From the witness stand, no one has any knowledge pertaining to their divorce circumstances. I suppose their marital problems began and ended in one day with hugs & kisses. With this said the know everything about my , background. My paid attorneys does not specialize in CPS cases. Therefore I am fearing of losing this case. This entire matter appears to justify Nancy Schaefer’s argument against CPS. My only problem is that this case is draining my pockets with attorney fees and travel expenses. I need experts in the court room with me & financial support to keep up the fight. I do not know how go to get this message out for the world to see. Their has to be a way to stop this power abuse of the legal system. I need help to save my niece and nephew. What else can I do?

    Like

  13. Erica Barkdoll says:

    I have been exploded and much more… I don’t no how I’m alive today after all I’m going through. I no longer have like 3 children fort Bend Cps saw to that I am going to court tomorrow hoping that they don’t put them up for adoption.i love my children and do anything for them I was a good mom, and they just took him they use the AMBER Alert System Needville Texas and made up some bullshit stories about me and all over the internet still I don’t know what else to do are you going to jail cuz I’m getting screwed over by a probation and is there working with Cps that’s what they told me they were going to do ou Cps

    Like

  14. heidi jacobson says:

    oh my goodness, i need an advocate… someone PLEASE help me! i knew my rights from DAY ONE. ALL OF THIS! I told ALL OF THE ATTORNEYS! I tried to speak to the judge! But I just appeared more ‘crazy’ anytime I would shout! Or cry! =,( then they gave him to HIM across STATE lines without even bothering to CONTACT ME FIRST!!!! I HATE THIS SO MUCH!!!!

    Like

  15. Debbie Burton says:

    My cousins daughter was takn by cps in medford oregon in 2000-2001,her rights wer terminated&the foster parents adopted her. She was only 3 years old at the time,and will b 18 june 1 2016. Think they may hav changed her f7ll name. Is t her any way to find her now ? W were would we even start??

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    • yvonnemason says:

      They may have kept the name she went by and added the foster care providers last name – if you have an ancestry account that is the best place to start also google that name

      Like

    • yvonnemason says:

      You cousin could also post it on facebook- that she is looking for her daughter and the information she has on her daughter. Her birth name her birthday and the name of the foster care provider if she has it.

      Like

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