9th Circus at it again: Parents have no right…
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit holds that "there is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children, either independent of their right to direct the upbringing and education of their children or encompassed by it." Today's ruling from a unanimous three-judge panel was written by Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt in a case involving elementary school students. The final paragraph of Judge Reinhardt's opinion states:
In summary, we hold that there is no free-standing fundamental right of parents "to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance with their personal and religious values and beliefs" and that the asserted right is not encompassed by any other fundamental right. In doing so, we do not quarrel with the parents' right to inform and advise their children about the subject of sex as they see fit. We conclude only that the parents are possessed of no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on that subject to their students in any forum or manner they select. We further hold that a psychological survey is a reasonable state action pursuant to legitimate educational as well as health and welfare interests of the state. Accordingly, the parent-appellants have failed to state a federal claim upon which relief may be granted. The decision of the district court is affirmed.
While it appears on its face that the ruling is based on standing, and not on the underlying question, the net effect is the ruling will be taken as limiting parental rights. It is listed as being a 3-judge panal of the 9th circuit, but only two of the judges were 9th circuit judges, as the third was a senior judge from the 8th circuit.
Erick at Redstate has a post on the ruling tonight:
Interestingly, while the court ruled that parents have no "right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which children might be exposed," the public schools, according to the Ninth Circuit, can only expose children to sex. Exposing children to prayer or the Pledge of Allegiance would indoctrinate the children unfairly.
As a legal matter, the case was most likely rightly decided based on the law. But, we should all be outraged at the lack of respect the Ninth Circuit showed to parents -- who should be the the only party introducing seven year olds to issues of sex. As Neodanite said, if the town pervert had grilled the seven year olds on masturbation, it would have been a crime. In the same way, I can hardly imagine the Ninth Circuit upholding a law that would give parents the exclusive right to education their children about sex. And that is just not right.
Erick goes deeper, by examining some of the questions posed to 7-year olds about sex in a psychological survey. The plantiffs in the case, the parents, are ticked off that the true nature of the survey was not disclosed upfront, as they would not have given their consent had they known the true nature of the survey:
The School District sent a note home to parents asking for parental consent to engage their children in a survey of early trauma. The survey was prepared by Kristi Seymour, a volunteer "mental health counselor" at Mesquite Elementary School while she was enrolled in a master's degree program at the California School of Professional Psychology. The School District, collaborating with the School of Psychology and Seymour, developed and administered the questionnaire to first, third, and fifth grade students. While parents were informed that the survey would cover "baseline . . . exposure to early trauma (for example, violence)," it specifically did not mention sex.
A wee bit over the line in my book. The School District should be ashamed of themselves for such a stunt, but this is California we are talking about -- it's been a long time since Reagan was Governor out there.
When parents of schoolchildren in Palmdale, California learned from their sons and daughters that they had been questioned in their public elementary school about sexual topics such as the frequency of “thinking about having sex” and “thinking about touching other peoples’ private parts,” some of them exercised their constitutional right to take their grievance to the courts. The questioning was part of a survey the Palmdale School District was conducting regarding psychological barriers to learning. The parents brought an action in district court against the School District and two of its officials for violating their right to privacy and their right “to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex.” They brought both federal and state claims. The district court dismissed the federal causes of action for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and dismissed the state claims without prejudice to their right to re-file in state court. We agree, and hold that there is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children, either independent of their right to direct the upbringing and education of their children or encompassed by it. We also hold that parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students. Finally, we hold that the defendants’ actions were rationally related to a legitimate state purpose.
When a closer read is taken of this opening paragraph of the opinion, it appears they have determined far more than standing. I would hardly agree that misleading parents into consenting for something they would otherwise not consent to is a "legitimate state purpose". Small consolation that the plantiffs have leave to re-file in state court...