mkg4583

Troxel v. Granville 530 U.S. 57 (2000)

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, Family Rights, fathers rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, motherlessness, mothers rights, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights, Troxel v. Granville on June 11, 2009 at 10:50 pm

Facts of the Case:

During Tommie Granville and Brad Troxel’s relationship, which ended in 1991, they had two daughters. Until Brad’s suicide in 1993, Brad’s parents Jenifer and Gary Troxel, the paternal grandparents, had regularly seen their granddaughters on weekends. However, after Brad’s suicide, Granville informed the Troxels that she wished to reduced their visitation time to one short visit per month. The Troxels filed suit for the right to visit their grandchildren, under section 26.10.160(3) of the Revised Code of Washington, which permits “any person” to petition for visitation rights “at any time” and authorizes state superior courts to grant such rights whenever visitation may serve a child’s best interest. Granville did not oppose the petition outright but did oppose the amount of visitation time sought by the Troxels. Subsequently, a Washington Superior Court ordered more visitation than Granville desired. On appeal, the Washington Court of Appeals reversed that decision, holding that non-parents lacked standing to sue under the statute. In affirming, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the statute unconstitutionally interfered with parents’ right to rear their children.

Question:

Does the Washington statute, which allows any person to petition for a court-ordered right to see a child over a custodial parent’s objection if such visitation is found to be in the child’s best interest, unconstitutionally interfere with the fundamental right of parents to rear their children?

Conclusion:

Yes. In a 6-3 decision delivered by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the Court held that the Washington Statute violated the right of parents, under the due process clause of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children. Justice O’Connor wrote for the Court that “[t]he liberty interest at issue in this case — the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children — is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court.” Justices John Paul Stevens, Antonin Scalia, and Anthony Kennedy dissented.

Decision:

Decision: 6 votes for Granville, 3 vote(s) against

To read the complete opinion on FindLaw.com

—————————————————————

Quotes

Below are useful quotes from the opinions written by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner in Troxel v. Granville.

"there is a presumption that fit parents act in the best interests of their children."

"In light of this extensive precedent, it cannot now be doubted that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children."

"It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder."

"Accordingly, so long as a parent adequately cares for his or her children (i.e., is fit), there will normally be no reason for the State to inject itself into the private realm of the family to further question the ability of that parent to make the best decisions concerning the rearing of that parent's children."

"The decisional framework employed by the Superior Court directly contravened the traditional presumption that a fit parent will act in the best interest of his or her child."

"In an ideal world, parents might always seek to cultivate the bonds between grandparents and their grandchildren. Needless to say, however, our world is far from perfect, and in it the decision whether such an intergenerational relationship would be beneficial in any specific case is for the parent to make in the first instance."

"As we have explained, the Due Process Clause does not permit a State to infringe on the fundamental right of parents to make childrearing decisions simply because a state judge believes a "better" decision could be made..Accordingly, we hold that §26.10.160(3), as applied in this case, is unconstitutional.." (emphasis added)

"The strength of a parent's interest in controlling a child's associates is as obvious as the influence of personal associations on the development of the child's social and moral character. Whether for good or for ill, adults not only influence but may indoctrinate children, and a choice about a child's social companions is not essentially different from the designation of the adults who will influence the child in school. Even a State's considered judgment about the preferable political and religious character of schoolteachers is not entitled to prevail over a parent's choice of private school." [Justice Souter in his concurring opinion.]

"It would be anomalous, then, to subject a parent to any individual judge's choice of a child's associates from out of the general population merely because the judge might think himself more enlightened than the child's parent." [Justice Souter in his concurring opinion.]

"parents have a fundamental constitutional right to rear their children, including the right to determine who shall educate and socialize them." [Justice Thomas in his concurring opinion.]

"Here, the State of Washington lacks even a legitimate governmental interest–to say nothing of a compelling one–in second-guessing a fit parent's decision regarding visitation with third parties." [Justice Thomas in his concurring opinion.]

Justice Kennedy in his dissenting opinion said, "It must be recognized, of course, that a domestic relations proceeding in and of itself can constitute state intervention that is so disruptive of the parent-child relationship that the constitutional right of a custodial parent to make certain basic determinations for the child's welfare becomes implicated….If a single parent who is struggling to raise a child is faced with visitation demands from a third party, the attorney's fees alone might destroy her hopes and plans for the child's future."

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: