1.Sutherland Institute Hails Barlow Decision
The Sutherland Institute lauds the Utah Supreme Court’s decision on February 16, 2007 in behalf of parental rights. The Utah Supreme Court ruled 4-1 in favor of biological parents in the Jones v. Barlow case.
“We commend the Utah Supreme Court for their wisdom in maintaining the common law definition of in loco parentis as a temporary and voluntary delegation of parental authority,” said Paul T. Mero, president of Sutherland Institute. “With prescient insight, the Court rejected this doctrine’s use in granting permanent relationships between a child and a non-biological adult.”
2.Sutherland’s 2007 Legislative Efforts End on a High Note
Legislators took a hard stance on crimes against children in the 2007 legislative session. Among the several bills supported by the Sutherland Institute and passed by the Legislature, two of them, HB 228 and 3SHB 86, comprise Utah’s version of “Jessica’s Law.” HB 228 amends the Utah Criminal Code to provide that the murder of a child younger than 14 years of age is now a capital felony. Third Substitute HB 86 amends provisions of the Criminal Code relating to penalties for sexual offenses and child kidnapping.
“The strengthening of the family unit and ensuring the well-being of our children are key legislative priorities for the Sutherland Institute,” said Stan Rasmussen, Sutherland manager of public affairs. “Four Sutherland-supported bills that passed this year do just that. We are especially pleased with the success of Representative Carl Wimmer’s HB 228 and 3SHB 86, which establish policy that avoids objections to minimum mandatory sentencing and still creates the high standard Utahns expect and want reflected in their laws regarding heinous crimes against children.”
Other Sutherland-supported bills that passed:
- HB 343 - With all empirical evidence showing that children are better off in every category of human progress in two-parent homes, HB 343 establishes a foster and adoption placement preference in the home of two legally-married parents.
- SB 56 (Third Substitute) - Prohibits school districts and charter schools from establishing or maintaining procedures that favor one teacher association over another.
These bills now await Governor Jon Huntsman’s signature. The governor has until March 20 to sign or simply allow these bills to go into law without his signature.
“We express our thanks for the diligent efforts of the many legislators, informed and engaged citizens, and colleagues who worked hard in seeking to create policy that will make Utah a better place to live, work and raise a family,” said Rasmussen.
3.Utah’s “Jessica’s Law” Close to Passage
Two bills, HB 228 and 3SHB 86, comprise Utah’s version of “Jessica’s Law.” Both are sponsored by freshman Representative Carl Wimmer (R-SL Co.) – District 52, and are now on the calendar for consideration by the full Senate. HB 228 amends the Utah Criminal Code to provide that murder of a child younger than 14 years of age is a capital felony. Third Substitute HB 86 amends provisions of the Criminal Code relating to penalties for sexual offenses and child kidnapping.
While testifying in support of both bills, Sutherland Institute President Paul T. Mero said, “There’s great pressure on the state of Utah from outside the state to pass a Jessica’s Law. We are pleased to have worked closely with Representative Wimmer to craft a policy that avoids the long-standing objections in Utah to minimum mandatory sentencing and still creates the high standard Utahns expect and want reflected in their laws regarding such heinous crimes against children.” Sutherland helped to develop what is now called the “standard minimum” policy that sets a high bar in sentencing and allows the judges’ discretion to factor in mitigating or aggravating circumstances.