We are still talking about a proposed constitutional amendment that has passed the Missouri House of Representatives. At this writing, the joint resolution was discussed at a Senate hearing but has not been placed on the calendar for general debate.
As we explained in our last post, the amendment would preserve and protect parents’ right to raise their children as they see fit. This right belongs to both parents; the amendment does not differentiate between fathers and mothers: The term “parent” is defined here as “a biological parent of a child, including the husband of a natural mother at the time the child was conceived, or the parent of a child by adoption, or as otherwise provided by law.”
When we left off, we were going through the times when a court could intervene and modify a parent’s right. The proposed resolution lists a number of crimes against children that could call for — but would not require — the court’s involvement. The right may also be modified if a civil court finds that a parent has endangered the child’s life, health or safety through medical neglect, abuse or any of a handful of other transgressions.
The proposed amendment also preserves the right (or the necessity) of the court to trump a parent’s rights in divorce and custody decisions, when a parent is deemed mentally incompetent, when paternity is in question and in adoption and guardianship matters.
Finally, no liability will attach to the police when their involvement is required. Those matters include child protection and emergency situations. That means that a parent may not sue the police for interfering with the rights laid out in this amendment.
As perfected in the House, the amendment would not create a separate cause of action for parents. That is, the rights are protected, but a perceived violation may not be argued in a civil court case.
MidMissouri.com, “Missouri measure would enshrine parental rights,” March 30, 2014
Missouri House of Representatives, HCS HJR 56 text (perfected), accessed online April 17, 2014