Calls are urgently needed to urge Maine lawmakers to protect parental rights.
A bill is pending, LD 472, that would enact a law protecting the rights of parents. It sounds like a simple, obvious idea! But when I testified in favor of the bill during a committee hearing on May 2, some lawmakers seemed unsupportive.
Your calls are crucial to convince them that the folks who put them in office–you!–want parental rights protected in the Maine law books. At least 10 other states have enacted parental rights statutes. Now it is time for Maine lawmakers to act–but they won’t unless they hear from you today, Monday, or Tuesday!
The committee handling the bill will vote on Wednesday, May 10. Please call today, Monday, or Tuesday!
The members of the committee–the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary–are listed below. If your senator or representative is listed as a committee member, please call or email him or her. To find out who your senator and representative are, follow this link: https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/.
Your message can be as simple as: “Please vote YES on LD 472. The right to make normal parental decisions needs to be written in the law books, and not left to the whims of judges.” Or you can read through the “Background” section below if you want some information to help craft your own personal message.
Please pass this on to other parents you know!
MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE
Senator Lisa Keim of Oxford- Chair, R – Senate District 18
Phone: (207) 562-6023, e-mail: Lisa.Keim@Legislature.Maine.gov
Senator Dawn Hill of York, D – Senate District 35
Phone: (207) 337-3689, e-mail: Dawn.Hill@legislature.maine.gov
Senator Rodney Whittemore of Somerset, R – Senate District 3
Phone: (207) 474-6703, e-mail: Rodney.Whittemore@legislature.maine.gov
Representative Matthew Moonen of Portland- Chair, D – House District 38
Phone: (207) 332-7823, e-mail: Matthew.Moonen@legislature.maine.gov
Representative Christopher Babbidge of Kennebunk, D – House District 8
Phone: 207-985-3332, e-mail: Chris.Babbidge@legislature.maine.gov
Representative Donna Bailey of Saco, D – House District 14
Phone: (207) 284-9962, e-mail: Donna.Bailey@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Richard Bradstreet of Vassalboro, R – House District 80
Phone: (207) 861-1657, e-mail: Richard.Bradstreet@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Barbara Cardone of Bangor, D – House District 127
Phone: (207) 356-7981, e-mail: Barbara.Cardone@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Stacey Guerin of Glenburn, R – House District 102
Phone (207) 249-0472, e-mail: Stacey.Guerin@legislature.maine.gov
Representative Chris Johansen of Monticello, R – House District 145
Phone: (207) 456-6208, e-mail: Chris.Johansen@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Joyce McCreight of Harpswell, D – House District 51
Phone: 207-449-3293, e-mail: Jay.McCreight@legislature.maine.gov
Representative Lois Reckitt of South Portland, D – House District 31
Phone: (207) 712-2474, e-mail: Lois.Reckitt@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Roger Sherman of Hodgdon, R – House District 144
Phone: 207-532-7073, e-mail: email@example.com
There are three types of citizen rights: absolute, fundamental, and ordinary. Each type gets a different type of protection. If a right is absolute, the government can’t touch it. If a right is ordinary, the government can put virtually any restriction on it.
Between these two extremes are fundamental rights. When a right is labeled as fundamental, the government can restrict it only if it meets three criteria. (1) The need for a restriction must be compelling. (2) The type of restriction must be narrowly focused to meet the need. (3) And the restriction must cause the least possible actual constraint on the citizen that is required to get the job done. In the language of the courts, these three used together are called “strict scrutiny”.
The right to decide how your children are reared has been considered a fundamental right since 1925, according to the U.S. Supreme Court. (It has never been considered absolute.)
But in 2000, something incredibly confusing happened. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision (Troxel v. Granville) which SAID parental rights were fundamental but stunningly the Court refused to come right out and say whether parental rights deserve the protection of strict scrutiny that all other fundamental rights receive.
With this deafening silence, many courts began assuming that the U.S. Constitution does not really require that a government restriction on parents pass the strict scrutiny test. Since then, more than 25 courts have refused to treat the rights of parents as deserving of strict scrutiny. In effect, those courts treated the rights of parents as if they had been downgraded to ordinary rights.
This “downgrading” has not happened in Maine courts–at least not yet. But as of today, there is absolutely nothing that would prevent a Maine judge from deciding to downgrade your right to rear your kids to an ordinary right and take away strict scrutiny protection. This would be a crushing blow to normal family relationships.
Think of how the government regulates welfare benefits, drivers licenses, banks and insurance companies–piles and piles of regulations! These regulations are rarely overturned because they restrict rights that are merely ordinary. That is how the government would be empowered to regulate parenting if parental rights are downgraded to ordinary.
Scotland recently treated parental rights as ordinary–and passed a law assigning a government agent to supervise every parent-child relationship.
How the U.S. Constitution is interpreted by judges will vary over time. But the U.S. Constitution is not the only source of citizen rights! State legislatures can–and often do–enact laws to protect rights. In fact, 10 states have decided to put parental rights on the books rather than let them toss in the wind with every new judicial decision.
Now it’s Maine’s turn. LD 472 is a simple, straightforward, uncomplicated solution. It puts into black and white that the rights of parents are fundamental and deserve the protection of strict scrutiny.
Because LD 472 merely puts into law what the Maine Supreme Court has already said (in Rideout v. Riendeau, for example), its enactment would actually cause no change whatsoever. Nor is it intended to cause change. It is intended to prevent a harmful change–the downgrading of parental rights in Maine to ordinary. It’s like a seatbelt–most of the time it makes no difference, but if you are in an accident, it could save you. LD 472 protects your right to raise your kids from the “accident” of a judge in Maine deciding it’s time to downgrade parental rights.
LD 472 gives parents no new rights. Parents won’t be able to do anything after its enactment that they could before its enactment. It won’t impact compulsory attendance laws, child labor laws, or child abuse-neglect laws because those all pass the strict scrutiny test, as universally recognized.
A technical note: the text of LD 472 that you will currently see on websites is not the final version. The sponsor is going to amend it on Wednesday to fully incorporate strict scrutiny protection.
Additional note: Homeschoolers of Maine, whose board includes ParentalRights.org State Coordinators Ed and Kathy Green, is united with us in supporting LD 472.
For additional detail, I invite you to read the written testimony I submitted to the committee on May 2.
Thank you for standing with us for freedom!
Scott Woodruff, Attorney
(who spoke on behalf of ParentalRights.org at a Maine Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday)