Understanding State Laws and Court Precedent
Does Court Precedent Secure Parental Rights?
No. Just because a state has a court precedent in favor of parental rights, it does NOT mean that the state courts will continue to follow that precedent. In fact, we’re seeing an alarming trend away from protecting parental rights (see North Dakota for example) in light of Troxel’s confusing legacy. This is why it's critical that we continue to work for laws protecting parental rights even in "safe" states. (See "Why a Statute in a 'Safe' State?" for more details.)
Why Are There Still Issues in States with Favorable Parental Right Laws?
Laws help hold courts accountable to protecting parental rights. Yet we're also seeing cases of abuse even in states (such as Michigan) that have good laws and precedents in place. Sometimes, problems in federal laws will lead to abuses even in protected states.
This is one reason that, in addition to helping us protect parental rights at the state level, we need your help in passing the Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and federal legislation amending existing child welfare laws. Federal laws will help change existing practices, and the Amendment will guard against the continual erosion of a right we all hold dear.