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Another Lesson in American Jurisprudence Brought to You by the Ninth Circuit

It’s reprehensible when a public school surveys its first, third and fifth graders about barriers to learning with questions about the frequency of “thinking about having sex” and “thinking about touching other peoples’ private parts.” This bold adventure in education also asked these children to relate the extent to which “touching my private parts too much” and “not trusting people because they might want sex” affected their learning. This is public instruction in America.

And at first blush, it is absurd when the federal judiciary condones such depravity as the nutty Ninth Circuit did today in response to a federal lawsuit filed on the part of aggrieved parents who claimed the school district had infringed upon their rights to control the information their children were exposed to. The three-judge panel held:

“[T]here is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children, either independent of their right to direct the upbringing and education of their children or encompassed by it. We also hold that parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed.”

Undoubtedly this is another cultural leftward lurch. But to deplore the court as many conservatives are today is to miss the point. If it didn’t advance a destructive agenda, conservatives would applaud this decision. The parents here founded their right to control what information is presented to their children in the general right to “privacy” so insidiously invented years ago. It is not in anyone’s best interests to seek an extension of the already ludicrous “right to privacy.” Conservatives rightly rage against the federal diktat in Roe because they feel abortion is not a question of fundamental constitutional rights, but one of local majoritarian values. Furthermore, as the court notes, we already have many laudatory (and some no so) laws on the books essentially restricting parents’ rights (such as school uniform policies, curfews, mandatory attendance, curriculum standards, etc). Based on sound legal analysis, the court gets it right.

One may ask, then, what is to be done? These parents did not find redress at the school board level or in the state courts. But the federal judiciary ought not be the place to run for a problem like this. The fundamental issue here is not a constitutional right, but local control. These concerned parents have lost control of their local public school. Rather than hope the federal judiciary will spank a renegade school district, they would be better off to assume the school district is renegade and be vigilant. Or, better yet, vote with their feet and take what is fast becoming the only legitimate step for parents with traditional values: a trustworthy private school or homeschool.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 3, 2005 3:14 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Bork on Alito.

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