Sutherland Supports Parental Rights

Salt Lake City, UT – The Sutherland Institute, Utah’s conservative think tank, is among nineteen organizations fighting for the parental rights of home educators before a panel of the California Second District Court of Appeals. The Court agreed to vacate and reconsider its February 28, 2008 opinion determining that all California home educators may be found guilty of a crime, fined, ordered to complete parent education, subjected to involuntary counseling, and deprived of legal parental control over their children.

“The vacated opinion had erroneously announced that the ‘sincerely held religious beliefs’ of Evangelical Christians were irrelevant by asserting ‘the educational program of the State of California was designed to promote the general welfare of all the people and was not designed to accommodate the personal ideas of any individual in the field of education,’” noted Daniel E. Witte, an attorney and trustee for the Sutherland Institute. “Justice H. Walter Croskey further asserted that home-educated children needed firm government training to assure ‘knowledge and intelligence’ and ‘good citizenship, patriotism, and loyalty to the state.’”

Sutherland’s brief uniquely focuses on the historical evolution of the Parental Liberty Doctrine and includes in its appendix, “Removing Classrooms from the Battlefield: Liberty, Paternalism, and the Redemptive Promise of Educational Choice,” 2008 BYU Law Review. The essay is a new peer-reviewed Sutherland article tracing Justice Croskey’s reasoning back to an unfortunate Know-Nothing political party resolution successfully introduced by Major Richard Henry Pratt in 1899.

“The modern incarnation of Pratt’s paradigm poses a grave and ongoing threat to the religious liberty and parental rights of Mormons, Evangelical Christians, Catholics, Native Americans, Hispanics, African Americans, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders, and numerous other demographic minorities,” Witte concludes.