Anna and Alex Nikolayev of Sacramento lost custody of their 5-month-old son last week when they decided to seek a second opinion before having the baby undergo heart surgery. Though a second doctor found it safe to release the boy into their custody, and though an investigating officer also cleared the family to go home, the child was taken the next day.
Passage of the Parental Rights Amendment will provide parents an explicit constitutional protection; otherwise, they’ll have to rely on the courts, hoping they will continue to interpret the Fourteenth Amendment as they traditionally have (but increasingly no longer do). And the PRA will allow organizations like CPS to know exactly what the rules are that they must follow.
“The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their child is a fundamental right. Neither the United States nor any State shall infringe this right without demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served.”
These two sentences would make clear that CPS cannot take a child away unless it is prepared to prove that the child was in danger caused by abuse or neglect. In this case, it would increase the chances that common sense would prevail and baby Sammy would have gotten to stay home safe and sound with his mom and dad.