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Congressman Randy Hultgren

Representing the 14th District of ILLINOIS

Hultgren Introduces Parental Rights Amendment to the Constitution

Nov 16, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC — U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (R-IL-14), Co-Chairman of the Values Action Team, today introduced the Parental Rights Amendment, H.J.Res. 121, to protect the rights of parents to raise, care for and guide their children without undue government interference unless there is proof of abuse or neglect.

“The freedom for parents to direct the upbringing, education and care of their children is an American tradition once established beyond debate,” said Rep. Hultgren. “Yet every day, families are broken apart by state actors who presume they are able to make a better decision for a child than a parent can. With recent state laws and court decisions threatening this American value, it is time parental rights are enshrined as fundamental rights and therefore protected under the Constitution.”

Parental rights are not explicitly granted in the Constitution, which has resulted in an ever-growing number of conflicts with local, state and federal governments, and courts, seeking to intervene in parental decisions without a substantive justification or semblance of a showing of harm. That debate was reopened in 2000 when a Washington state law provided the authority for a third party to override a good parent’s decision regarding their children if it would be in the “best” interest of the children to do so. Today numerous lower federal courts refuse to treat parental rights as deserving of protection as a fundamental right, and 35 states include disability as grounds for termination of parental rights.

Examples include:

  • Doctors at Boston Children's Hospital’s ER disagreed with teenager Justina Pelletier’s primary care physicians at Tufts Medical Center that she suffered from mitochondrial disease. Instead, they said it was a mental illness, and the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families took her from her parents and into state custody. She was kept in the hospital’s psych ward and group homes for months. She was returned to her parents more than a year later, and her health still has not fully recovered.
  • Following her birth in Missouri, baby Mikeala Johnson was taken into the foster care system because her parents are blind. When she was returned to her mother Erika 57 days later, they had forever lost important bonding opportunities, including Erika’s chance to breastfeed her baby early on.
  • The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Fields v. Palmdale held that “once parents make the choice as to which school their children will attend, their fundamental right to control the education of their children is…substantially diminished.” (emphasis added)

The Parental Rights Amendment:

  • Secures the tradition of parental rights as a fundamental right in the text of the Constitution.
  • Secures the right of parents to choose the manner in which they educate their child.
  • Guarantees the rights of a parent will not be abridged on account of a disability.

Rep. Hultgren was joined by original cosponsors Reps. Ted Budd (NC-13), Jeff Duncan (SC-03), Kristi Noem (SD-At-large), Tim Walberg (MI-07), Barbara Comstock (VA-10), Alex Mooney (WV-02), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Jim Banks (IN-03), Mark Meadows (NC-11), Bill Posey (FL-08), Robert Pittenger (NC-09), Bill Huizenga (MI-02), Kenny Marchant (TX-24), Vicky Hartzler (MO-04) and Brian Babin (TX-36). A parallel Senate resolution, S.J. Res. 48, was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in August.