Share this page:

Federal Legislation
July 13, 2012

S.J. Res. 42—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, care, and upbringing of their children by amending the Constitution of the United States.

6/5/2012 Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Sponsor: Senator Jim DeMint (SC)

Bill Summary—S.J. Res. 42

HSLDA’s Position:

Eighty years ago the Supreme Court declared that “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.” Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510(1925). Thirty years ago the Court continued this line of reasoning with the pronouncementthat the “primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition.” Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972).

Yet in 2000, when the State of Washington gave any person the ability to override a good parent’s decision about visitation by simply claiming that it would be “best” for children to allow the third-party to have visitation rights, in the Supreme Court’s Troxel v. Granville:

  • There were six separate opinions and none reached a five-vote majority.
  • Justice Thomas was the only justice to clearly state that parental rights receive the same high legal standard of protection as other fundamental rights.
  • Justice Scalia held that parents have no constitutionally protected rights whatsoever.

Support for a high view of parental rights has been seriously undermined by the current Court. As a consequence, numerous lower federal courts refuse to treat parental rights as deserving of protection as a fundamental right.

At the same time, America is poised to adopt the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. President Obama supports this treaty. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been a leading advocate of this treaty for over 20 years. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) “promised” in the last term of Congress that this treaty will be ratified.

Why an amendment:
The Parental Rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution would ensure that parents have a fundamental right to raise, educate, and care for their children. The amendment would also prevent treaties from overruling U.S. law regarding parents and children, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

 Other Resources

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