Right for All the Wrong Reasons On Parent-Student Religio-Sexual Rights

Jeff at Caerdroia linked to a controversial decision on parental rights.

For background, a public school sent out a poorly worded slip asking parents to allow the school to let a graduate student privately ask questions to students that may require “psychological help” to recover from. Particlarly, the flier read

Dear Parent or Caregiver:

The Palmdale School District is asking your support in participating in a district-wide study of our first, third and fifth grade children. The study will be a part of a collaborative effort with The California School of Professional Psychology — CSPP/ Alliant International University, Children’s Bureau of Southern California and the Palmdale School District. The goal of this assessment is to establish a community baseline measure of children’s exposure to early trauma (for example, violence). We will identify internal behaviors such as anxiety and depression and external behaviors such as aggression and verbal abuse. As a result, we will be designing a district wide intervention program to help children reduce these barriers to learning, which students can participate in. Please read this consent letter and if you agree, please sign and send it back to your school’s principal no later than December 20, 2001. The assessment will consist of three, twenty-minute self-report measures, which will be given to your child on one day during the last week of January. This study is 100% confidential and at no time will the information gathered be used to identify your child. Your child will not be photographed or videotaped. You may refuse to have your child participate or withdraw from this study at any time without any penalty or loss of servicesto which your child is entitled.

I am aware that the research study coordinator, Kristi Seymour, one research assistant, the Palmdale School District, Director of Psychology, Michael Geisser, and a professor from CSPP, will be the only people who have access to the study’s information. After the study is completed, all information will be locked in storage and then destroyed after a period of five years.

I understand answering questions may make my child feel uncomfortable. If this occurs, then, Kristi Seymour, the research study coordinator, will assist us in locating a therapist for further psychological help if necessary. If I have further questions, I may contact Kristi Seymour at 1529 E. Palmdale Blvd., Suite 210, Palmdale, CA 93550 at 661.272.9997 x128. I understand that I will not be able to get my child’s individual results due to anonymity of the children, but I may get a summary report of the study results.

I have read this form and understand what it says. I her[e]by agree to allow my child to participate in this district-wide study.” (emphasis in original). Additionally, two lines were made available on the “Parental Consent” form for the “Parent/Caregiver” to sign and date it.

Some parents who approved were rather surprised when their young children were asked to rate questions such as:

8. Touching my private parts too much
17. Thinking about having sex
22. Thinking about touching other people’s private
23. Thinking about sex when I don’t want to
26. Washing myself because I feel dirty on the inside
34. Not trusting people because they might want
40. Getting scared or upset when I think about sex
44. Having sex feelings in my body
47. Can’t stop thinking about sex
54. Getting upset when people talk about sex

Several parents were upset at the deception, and sued. The parents claimed the school’s actions violated their “basic Constitutional right” “to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex.” This is the case of .

First, the Court appropriately states that it should not make law, only apply law to existing cases

We note at the outset that it is not our role to rule on the wisdom of the School District’s actions. That is a matter that must be decided in other fora. The question before us is simply whether the parents have a constitutional right to exclusive control over the introduction and flow of sexual information to their children.

Then, the Court notes that the State has a long constitutional history of running schools

In Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944), the Court recognized that parents’ liberty interest in the custody, care, and nurture of their children resides “first” in the parents, but does not reside there exclusively, nor is it “beyond regulation [by the state] in the public interest.” Id. at 166. For example, the state “as parens patriae” may restrict parents’ interest in the custody, care, and nurture of their children “by requiring school attendance, regulating or prohibiting the child’s labor and in many other ways.”

Many other findings are similarly concise. It appears that the Court is crafting a restrained opinion which narrowly strikes down the lawsuit. Even the second-to-last paragraph is fine:

Although we reach our conclusions with little difficulty and firmly endorse the School District’s authority to conduct survey for the purposes involved here, we reiterate that we express no view on the wisdom of posing some of the particular questions asked or of conducting an inquiry into some of the particular areas surveyed by the School District. That determination is properly left to the school authorities.

But this is the Ninth Circuit, a highly political, highly activist branch of the federal judiciary.

All valid criticism of the decision comes from the last paragraph:

In summary, we hold that there is no free-standing fundamental right of parents “to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance with their personal and religious values and beliefs” and that the asserted right is not encompassed by any other fundamental right. In doing so, we do not quarrel with the parents’ right to inform and advise their children about the subject of sex as they see fit. We conclude only that the parents are possessed of no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on that subject to their students in any forum or manner they select. We further hold that a psychological survey is a reasonable state action pursuant to legitimate educational as well as health and welfare interests of the state. Accordingly, the parent-appellants have failed to state a federal claim upon which relief may be granted. The decision of the district court is affirmed.

The Court’s decision is dishonest. The bulk of the material is narrow, laying the groundwork for a finding against the parents. But then the Court creates law, saying the State has total rights to introduce sexual information in any way regardless of the faith or religion of the child or parent.

This enforced secularism is closer to French than American. And if Hillary Clinton’s proposals are what is needed to stop this bigotry, then so be it.

Of course, just fixing the Courts would be even better.

Lyrics for "Two Points for Honesty" by Guster from "Lost and Gone Forever."

Buy the record.

Read. Watch, listen. Surf.

refrain: If that’s all you will be,
you’ll be a waste of time.
You’ve dreamed a thousand dreams,
none seem to stick in your mind.
Two points for honesty:
It must make you sad to know that
nobody cares at all.

I want to be where
I’ve never been before
I want to be there
and then I’d understand
Know I’m right
and do it right,
could I get
to be like that
I’ll know
what I don’t know
with nothing more to gain

Will I get better
or stay the same?
I find I always
move to slowly
Can’t lift a finger,
can’t change my mind…
I never knew till someone told me that.

{refrain}

And all the people
who’ve seen it all before
And all the people
who already understand
Know they’re right,
and have done it right,
could I get to be like that?

I’ll know what I don’t know,
it’s harder everyday:
“Can’t lift a finger,
can’t hurt a fly.”
I’ve found I always
move too slowly
One things for certain,
I’m insecure
I never knew till
someone told me that….

{refrain}

Nobody cares at all
They never care at all

Barnett Wrong on International Criminal Court "Independence" from the United Nations

Note: This is part of a series of reviews for Blueprint for Action. The introduction and table of contents are also available.

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,” copyright United Nations, last updated 21 February 2001, http://www.un.org/law/icc/statute/romefra.htm.

Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating,” by Thomas Barnett, 20 October 2005, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0399153128/102-4292267-8637755?v=glance [author blog]

The International Criminal Court, an intergovernmental organization that has refused to promise not to prosecute Americans, is an important part of Dr. Barnett’s “

It features in his sixth stage of “successfully processing politically bankrupt states”

6. The final step in the process would involve the criminal prosecution of the indicted / apprehended parties in the International Criminal Court (ICC) located in The Hague, Netherlands (52)

And while Barnett argues for American, and International Peacekeeper, immunity from ICC prosecution

My prediction is this: While the U.S. Leviathan [blitzkrieg] force will never come under the purview of the ICC — because it will remain deeply embedded in military law — the far more internationalized SysAdmin [peacekeeper] force, including U.S. components, must reach some blanket-clause protection regarding its activities in the Gap. The reality is that the ICC was not set up to prosecute the “crimes” of peacekeepers and Core military personnel intervening inside the Gap, but rather to extend the Core’s principles of war crimes into the Gap and, in this way, provide some sense of international consequence for what in these chronic civil wars, long-running terrorist campaigns, and brutal dictatorships. (68)

He assures us the ICC won’t be complicated by entanglements with the United Nations:

Moving on to the last of the six pieces in this A-Z system, I personally place a strong emphasis on funneling any “suspects” we pick up in this process toward the International Criminal Court, an institution that is both free and independent of the UN system as was recently set up specifically to target individuals for prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity, and related war crimes. (67)

To make sure his point is clear, Barnett later reiterates his suggestion

As for the trials, prisoners will need to be funneled toward the International Criminal Court, which is perfect for this sort of thing. But again, the Untied States, plus the Core group as a whole, would need to reach some direct modus vivendi with the court, and if that didn’t work, the group would simply need to set up its own. But my guess is that the ICC would jump at the chance to be accredited in this additional manner, because so long as the United States considers it more of a threat to its ruling making than avenue for rule sharing with the rest of the Core, the ICC will remain vastly underutilized. And no, that wouldn’t get us in bed uncomfortably with the UN, because the ICC is independent of the UN. (132)

Hmmm… regular readers of tdaxp may recall a note from International Law & Organization which seems to contradict this…

UNSC can vote to delay ICC proceedings for 1 year, renewable

So what does the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court say about this? What does the ICC say about its relationship with the UN?

The States Parties to this Statute, … Determined to these ends and for the sake of present and future generations, to establish an independent permanent International Criminal Court in relationship with the United Nations system, with jurisdiction over the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, (Preamble)

Hmmm… that’s a little vague… and it does say “permanent”

The United Nations can refer cases to the International Criminal Court:

The Court may exercise its jurisdiction with respect to a crime referred to in article 5 in accordance with the provisions of this Statute if: … A situation in which one or more of such crimes appears to have been committed is referred to the Prosecutor by the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations (Article XIII(b)).

And, like my notes said, can delay prosecutions… indefinitely

No investigation or prosecution may be commenced or proceeded with under this Statute for a period of 12 months after the Security Council, in a resolution adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, has requested the Court to that effect; that request may be renewed by the Council under the same conditions. (Article XVI)

The treaty also mentions special roles for the SecretaryGeneral, the General Assembly, and other UN organs, but the Security Council’s power to start and stop prosecution hardly makes the ICC “free and independent of the UN system” or even just “independent of the UN.”

Except maybe in UN speech.

I am disappointed in Barnett’s misleading statements. Perhaps he did not read the ICC treaty and has not read any good summaries of it. Or he very selectively used one word in the (non-binding) Preamble, “independent,” while ignoring the substantial dependency of the ICC outlined in the treaty itself.