By Res Peters
Katrina. Breached levees. Limited escape routes. 1600 dead. 700 missing. Flaws within the government's design to protect the people remained silently undetected. The few voices predicting the coming disaster were unheeded. And ominously vulnerable, many perished under the external forces that overpowered them, relentlessly destroying all that was dear...property, family, community, and their very lives.
Some heeded early warnings and evacuated. 20% hesitated until it was too late, with no existing routes of escape. For those who survived, looting, violence, and the outbreak of disease often took what remained.
Amazingly, just three years later, the lessons of Katrina were not taken seriously by an astounding 25% of Galveston's population. Not only did a larger percentage fail to evacuate, they didn't even attempt to do so. Their homes were on stilts, not at risk behind a levee. Their 17-foot seawall would protect them, and if not, the stilts would.
Rather than enduring the inconvenience of slow traffic and perhaps days in their cars, they loaded food and water into their homes and remained there to protect their possessions. And even as the authorities warned of "certain death" and instructed them to write social security numbers on their children's arms, they chose to stay, exposing their families to the sheer horror of the storm.
With clear routes of escape, those with a mandate to protect their children valued their own convenience and possessions before ensuring their family's safety.
We, too, have been warned of the impending storm that threatens our families and the flaw in our own constitutional levee that we assume will protect us. That fatal flaw? The absence of a fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children.
This flaw was addressed by Justice Scalia, an originalist, who ruled in a minority decision that parental rights cannot be protected by judges because this right is not expressly found in our federal Constitution. With the addition of Justices Alito and Roberts to the Court, this could likely become a majority opinion in the future.
But the looming storm that will bring down the levee if we don't shore it up is the threat of international law. Ratified international treaties such as the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), under the Supremacy Clause of our Constitution, would become the "supreme law of the land." The UN would determine the rights of individuals unless those rights are expressly stated in our federal Constitution as fundamental rights.
Under the CRC, it is the duty of parents to act in what the UN considers to be in "the best interests of the child." And the burden is on the parents to prove that they are fit to do so, rather than the state to prove that the parents are unfit.
Signed by President Clinton, the CRC lacks only 67 Senate ratification votes to become the "supreme law of the land" unless parental rights are written in the ink of our Constitution.
An additional peril is Customary International Law (CIL). Many of our activist appeals court judges have been citing CIL, using international cases as ruling authority, and equating this with the "law of nations" cited in Article IV of our Constitution. With this precedent, we can expect to see referenced a Quebec court's overruling of a father's decision to ground his twelve-year-old daughter for posting inappropriate pictures of herself on adult dating websites. Or, perhaps a 2008 Australian law will surface, mandating the legal lunch box foods and quantities that parents must pack, and those that are illegal.
Even without citing CIL, parental rights have been increasingly under attack in our own courts. For example, children have been removed from their parents homes in Washington for insisting they attend church or that they cease sex and drug-related activity. And in 2006, a West Virginia mother lost custody of her 4-year-old daughter to two babysitters whom the court deemed "psychological co-parents."
With the storm of International Law pummeling our vulnerable levee, the only remedy to protect us from our own Senate ratification and the capricious rulings of our courts is an amendment to our federal Constitution expressing parental rights as fundamental. HSLDA is spearheading the effort to pass a Parental Rights Amendment and has created ParentalRights.org as a separate entity to accomplish this.
The proposed Parental Rights Amendment establishes three principles:
- Parental rights are an express, fundamental right.
- Parents' rights are not absolute, but may be overridden when the government proves a high need for doing so. Protecting children from proven abuse and neglect would be one example when parental choices could be overridden.
- International law would be precluded from applying to issues concerning parents and children in this country.
The amendment (HJ Res.97) was introduced by Congressman Pete Hoeksra (R-Michigan) in July. An aggressive, multi-faceted strategy will be rolled out after the November election with the goal of bringing the amendment to a vote in Congress next fall. The plan includes the creation of an enormous tsunami that will gain momentum and strength across the nation over the next year. On a single day next fall when the wave has peaked, it will deluge Washington, resulting in a floor vote on the amendment.
Our part will be now, at the beginning, to start the grassroots wave rolling. With an estimated three million homeschoolers across the nation, all of whom have the most to lose without the amendment, we are the most powerful network to create momentum. We will launch the "2x10" grassroots effort which will ultimately result in 10,000 petition signatures and postcards for each Congressman in the nation.
Each of us, as 2X10 Representatives, will be asked to find 10 people, over a two week period, to sign the Parental Rights Amendment petition and three postcards that will eventually be mailed to their Congressman and two Senators.
Out of those 10 contacts, 2 will be asked to also become 2x10 Representatives and find 10 people as you have done. Each new group of 2x10 Representatives will rollover and double up every two weeks. The plan is to complete three rounds over the course of six weeks within the homeschooling community. This will provide ParentalRights.org the traction in January, to launch the effort to allied groups nationwide that are already supportive of this effort.
The 2x10 Representatives will keep the signed postcards until the signal is given next fall to mail them. The goal will be for 12 million cards to hit Congress simultaneously with phone calls and emails on the designated day. This would literally bury the offices in a paper, phone, and electronic tsunami much like the legendary HR6 battle in 1994.
After the November election, an email will be sent from ParentalRights.org with specific instructions and updates. To receive that email, go to www.ParentalRights.org to view the text of the Amendment, to sign up, and to request the free DVD, "Protecting Parental Rights." This 3-minute video, featuring Michael Farris, offers a compelling presentation of the danger affecting every parent in the United States, and of what all parents can do to preserve their rights.
Our nation has suffered catastrophic loss of life and property in two recent storm tragedies. Will the loss of our right to raise our children, our most treasured possession, be the third?
The storm is bearing down on our shores and gaining momentum. Our levee is internally vulnerable. Our stilts won't prop us up. And inaction will bring certain death.
It's also the holidays. It's inconvenient to commit two hours to launch this effort. Will this inconvenience lull us into deadly complacency and inaction. Or will we seize the moment before the levee breaks to intentionally make the contacts and engage others in the battle.
It's unusual to have a Founding Fathers opportunity in life, to secure a legacy of freedom for future generations, for our children's children. Will you choose to give your child the gift that will endure this season? As for me and my house, we will.
For a more detailed analysis of the CRC, see "Shell Game" by Res Peters in the Summer 2008 CHOIS Connection, or online at www.CHOIS.org.
RES PETERS is the State Director of Testing for the Idaho Coalition of Home Educators. She resides with her husband, Barry, in Eagle, Idaho where they have home educated their two post-collegiate daughters through high school.