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Federal Legislation
June 2, 2009

S.J. Res. 16—“Parental Rights Amendment”

Action Requested:
HSLDA urges you to call or write your U.S. senators and urge them to support the Parental Rights Amendment. For more information on how you can get involved, please visit

This amendment is designed to protect the rights of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children by amending the Constitution of the United States.

Introduced: 5/14/2009: Introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

Sponsor: Senator Jim DeMint (SC)

Bill Summary and Status S.J. Res. 16

HSLDA’s Position:

Parental rights have traditionally been upheld in American history, but never explicitly stated in federal law. Until recent years these rights have been assumed, but the government has begun taking advantage of these rights. The Supreme Court case of Troxel v. Granville (2000) resulted in a splintered six-way decision that has left ambiguity at the state and federal levels. Since its publication, Troxel has been cited in support of parental rights in California (In Re: Rachel L, 2008) and Nebraska (Farnsworth v. Farnsworth, 2008), but set aside by courts in Massachusetts (Parker v. Hurley, 2007) and elsewhere. Thus, parental rights issues are decided on a state-by-state basis until another case reaches the Supreme Court, now made up of judicial activists and strict constructionists who are more likely to overturn than to uphold unenumerated parental rights.

Why an amendment:
This amendment, if ratified by the States, would explicitly state in the U.S. Constitution that parents have a fundamental right to raise and educate their children, and that this right is not to be denied to parents without the highest order of government interest. The amendment would also prevent treaties from overruling U.S. law regarding parents and children, such as the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

 Other Resources

Nannies in Blue Berets: Understanding the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child