October 18, 2013
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in North Carolina was the scene of a legal question: Whether or not it was offensive to display the American flag during a celebration of Mexican Heritage Day.
School officials at Live Oak High School (LOHS) barred students from wearing T-shirts and hats with the American flag displayed to divert a “potential problem”.
Students who did not comply with the dress-code restrictions were sent home or turned away at the entrance of the event.
Eugene Volokh, professor of law at the University of California (UoC), explained : “Dress codes are legal as long as they are content neutral. This case is different and has nothing to do with the dress codes. The American flag case will turn on whether the administrators overreacted in barring the American flag in the face of a perceived threat of violence.”
Judge Virginia Kendall agreed that the school faculty have the responsibility to prevent violent disruptions; however the student’s proposed threats of violence regarding the American flag restriction was completely alleged.
Attorney Robert Muise for the students pointed out that free speech rights of the students were infringed, while Don Willenburg, attorney for LOHS claimed that this restriction was part within the limitations of the previously established dress code.
The case was passed on to a lower court wherein Chief Judge James Ware stated that the “Constitution grants public school children only limited First Amendment rights when they enter the schoolhouse gates” and that this case was an “important legal territory.”
The Parental Rights Amendment (PRA) is being touted around Capitol Hill as an addition to the US Constitution that would grant parent’s rights that they naturally have be being parents.
The PRA was first introduced in 2008 and has sat on Capitol Hill ever since as a “wedge issue” that is evidenced of culture wars.
Under the original proposal , brought forth by Senator Jim DeMint, there were only 3 sections.
In Section I & II of the proposed amendment, parents are allowed to “direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children is a fundamental right” and “direct education includes the right to choose public, private, religious, or home schools, and the right to make reasonable choices within public schools for one’s child.”
In Section III, it is clearly stated that the US government “shall not infringe” on the rights outlined in Section I & II UNLESS they can demonstrate “that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served.”
Section IV gives the parents first right to abortion options and Section V admonishes that “no treaty may be adopted nor shall any source of international law be employed to supersede, modify, interpret, or apply to the rights guaranteed by this article.”
When it comes to jurisdiction over persons, the federal government first must establish that they have the right over those persons.
With regard to adding Amendments to the US Constitution, the jurisdiction would fall with the federal court system.
According to the US Constitution, Article III, Section II, cl. I: “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority.”
Judicial power is defined as “authority, both constitutional and legal, given to the courts and its judges (1) to preside over and render judgment on court-worthy cases; (2) to enforce or void statutes and laws when scope or constitutionality are questioned (3) to interpret statutes and laws when disputes arise.”
Essentially, PRA grants the federal court system jurisdictional authority over children with regard to the subjects mentioned in the amendment.
Fifty-nine members of the House of Representatives are supporting PRA. Those on the list include:
• Michele Bachmann
• Tom McClintock
• Joe Pitts
• Dave Camp
• Tim Huelskamp
• Mike Rogers
• Walter Jones
According to the Humanist Community at Harvard University, the PRA should be pushed aside in favor of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
The UNCRC is applicable to all children, regardless of “race, religion or abilities, whatever they think or say, whatever type of family they come from.
It doesn’t matter where children live, what language they speak, what their parents do, whether they are boys or girls, what their culture is, whether they have a disability or whether they are rich or poor.”
Under control of the UN, governments must take responsibility over naming sure that children’s rights are protected as defined by international law. The UNCRC mandates that social services, legal, health and education are defined internationally and must be adhered to at the minimum levels for compliance with the UN.
Whenever applicable, the UN would step in to allocate rights to a child that is “too young to understand [or] handle.”
Rights given to children by the UNCRC include:
• A legally registered name
• Official record of their identity
• Live with parents, “unless it is bad for them”
• Be involved in decision-making when the decision affects them
• Have opinions count when decisions are made
• Can share personal information as a right of freedom of expression
• Think and believe as they want
• Practice whatever religion they choose
• Make friends with whomever they want
• Privacy that is protected by the law of their respective government
• Have access to medical records
ParentalRights.org, champion of the PRA, objects to the UNCRC by stating:
- Children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion
- According to existing interpretation, it would be illegal for a nation to spend more on national defense than it does on children’s welfare
- Children would acquire a legally enforceable right to leisure
- Christian schools that refuse to teach “alternative worldviews” and teach that Christianity is the only true religion “fly in the face of article 29″ of the treaty
- Allowing parents to opt their children out of sex education has been held to be out of compliance with the UNCRC
- Children would have the right to reproductive health information and services, including abortions, without parental knowledge or consent.
- Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children.
Battling for the UNCRC are organizations such as:
• Child Rights Campaign
• Amnesty USA
• Human Rights Watch
• Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth