NCFPC Joins Parental Rights Brief
Special Report - September 22, 2010
The North Carolina Family Policy Council is one of several family policy councils to participate in a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Independence Law Center in a parental rights case that is currently before the United States Supreme Court. The brief was filed before the high court on September 9 in E.S.H. vs. K.D. and L.C., a Pennsylvania case involving a custody dispute between a child’s biological father and her stepfatherthe second husband of the child’s now deceased mother. After the child’s parents divorced, the mother was granted primary custody, but the father remained active and involved in the child’s life. The mother remarried but passed away shortly after doing so. After her death, her new husband (the child’s stepfather) petitioned the court for primary custody of the child, and the court granted the request, “against the wishes of the natural father,” who was a fit and involved parent. The biological father was granted partial custody of his child.
The amicus brief filed by the Independence Law Center in partnership with Hoppe and Martin, LLP argues that the Pennsylvania courts overstepped their bounds by awarding primary custody of the child to a “legal stranger.” The brief notes that, “the bond between parent and child is essential to our society and is undermined when fit parents are divested of their parental rights…. our laws should uphold, as they have historically done, the fundamental right to parent one’s children.” The brief warns, “Not one natural parent is safe from potentially having their fundamental rights surrendered to a third party. Allowing fundamental rights to be violated in this way will undermine the bond between parents and their children and lead to a breakdown of family, which is an indispensable building block of society.”
In a press release, Randall Wenger, chief counsel for the Independence Law Center, stated, “While the tragedy of divorce can tear parents from their children and children from their parents, no parent-child relationship should be invaded in a situation like this. Unless a parent is shown to be unfit, parents have a fundamental right to maintain their role as a parent to their children. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will reaffirm this ageless truth.”
The North Carolina Family Policy Council joined the following pro-family organizations in signing onto the amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court: Center for Arizona Policy, Citizens for Community Values, Cornerstone Action, Cornerstone Family Council, Family Action of Tennessee, Family Foundation, Indiana Family Institute, Georgia Family Council, Louisiana Family Forum Action, Massachusetts Family Institute, Minnesota Family Council, New Jersey Family Policy Council, Oklahoma Family Policy Council, Pennsylvania Family Institute, and Wisconsin Family Action.
Regarding the amicus brief, Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council said, "We wanted to participate in this brief because we recognize that the bond between parent and child is essential to our society and is undermined when fit parents are divested of their parental rights. We wanted to join other organizations to emphasize that our laws should uphold, as they have historically done, the fundamental right to parent one’s children."
Parental Rights - Findings - October 2003
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