The Supreme Court's Parental Rights Doctrine

A Summary of the Supreme Court's Parental Rights Doctrine: The Supreme Court's Parental Rights Doctrine is the culmination of the Court's rulings on parental rights. Up until 2000, the Supreme Court consistently upheld parental rights. In 2000, however, the split decision in Troxel v. Granville opened the door for individual judges and States to apply their own rules to parental rights.

Before 2000: Supreme Court Upholds Parental Rights

Prior to 2000, the Supreme Court followed the doctrine that parents have a fundamental right to direct the upbringing and education of their children. Parents were assumed to be the best caretakers for their child unless proven unfit. Our nation consistently maintained that parents possess a fundamental right to raise their children as they see fit.

After 2000 Troxel Ruling: There's Now No Clear Precedent

Rather than continuing to uphold the Parental Rights Doctrine clearly established in previous cases, the Supreme Court's split decision in Troxel v. Granville (2000) opened the door for individual judges and States to apply their own rules to parental rights.


It is the natural duty of the parent to give his children education suitable to their station in life. - Meyer v. State of Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923)

 Troxel Case in a Nutshell

A Washington state law gave any person the ability to override a good parent’s decision about visitation by simply claiming that it would be “best” for children to allow the third-party to have visitation rights. When the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the law in Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000):

* There were six separate opinions and none reached a five-vote majority.

* Justice Scalia held that parents have no constitutionally protected rights whatsoever.

* Only Justice Thomas clearly stated that parental rights receive the same high legal standard of protection as other fundamental rights.

This splintered decision left a confusing legacy.

Source: Parentalrights.org

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