Free-Range Kids

Sorry, CPS: Free-Range Kids Will Win in Court

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Scales
Dreamstime

You can see two Maryland kids walking happily home, stop them, throw them in a cruiser, hold them for five hours, and make their parents sign a "Safety Plan" before they're allowed to get 'em back. But if the cops or CPS try to defend those actions before nine folks in black robes, they will lose, says George Mason University Law Professor Ilya Somin in his Washington Post piece, "How the Constitution Protects 'Free-Range' Parents."

He helps make the case for the Meitiv family with the following arguments:

In two landmark cases in the 1920s, Meyer v. Nebraska and Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the Supreme Court ruled that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects parents' and guardians "to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control."

…In the 2000 case of Troxel v. Granville, the Court reaffirmed the "fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children," which it called "perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court." The plurality opinion by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (joined by three other members of the Court) emphasized that state officials must apply a strong presumption that parents' decisions about the upbringing of their children are correct, and cannot abridge parental control over child-raising based on "mere disagreement" with the parents' choices. In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas argued for even stronger protection of parental autonomy, noting that laws that infringe on "fundamental" constitutional rights are usually subject to "strict scrutiny" – the highest standard of judicial review.

Somin concludes that if the Meitivs went to trial, it should be "a relatively easy case:"

The Supreme Court has always indicated that parental rights are not absolute. The state can intervene to protect children against serious threats to their health and safety, and to ensure that all children get at least a basic education. But, as Troxel makes clear, the state can't infringe on parental control over child-raising unless they have real evidence showing that there is a genuinely significant threat to the childrens' safety and well-being….

Forcibly detaining elementary school-aged kids for walking by themselves in a safe, middle-class neighborhood doesn't even come close to meeting the necessary standard. Statistically, such walking is extremely safe, and probably less dangerous than police officers' actions in forcibly detaining the children and driving them to a CPS officeAccording to the Center for Disease Control, car accidents are a leading cause of death among small children; riding in a car as a passenger is far more dangerous for kids than walking in most neighborhoods. Far from "protecting" the two children, the police and the CPS probably put them at greater risk than they were exposed to before (though the risk was still very low in an absolute sense). The Meitivs' parenting practices are also much safer than numerous typical childhood activities, such as participating in contact sports like basketball and hockey, or going downhill skiing. If the CPS can force parents to stop letting their children walk home from the park, it can similarly target every other comparably risky activity, including numerous sports, and even driving the children in a car.

Read the full thing here.

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  1. The problem is that the consequences are so horrifically steep that challenging CPS rather than just signing some bullshit piece of paper is really unappealing to anybody who actually gives a shit about the welfare of the children involved.

    1. What is it gangbangers in the LAPD like to say?

      Oh yeah: “You can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride.”

      1. ^This. Even if they prevail in court CPS and the rest of the government will have a hardon for them for the rest of their lives. Also, possibly the CPS (etc) in any jurisdiction to which they might move, government hating as it does to have its authority challenged.

    2. Which is exactly why we should all thank the Meitivs for being willing to take such a step.

  2. Pick the cops and CPS officials up by the ankles, turn them upside-down, and shake all the money out of their pockets. Or just shake them.

    1. Unfortunately their pockets aren’t the ones that get emptied. Taxpayers will foot the bill.

  3. That was a welcome read.

    1. I don’t think Skenazy is really all that sorry.

      1. I’m sure I’M not.

  4. As long as there on no personal consequences to law enforcement or case workers who overstep, but are consequences to those who miss abuse, this kind of thing will continue.

    1. There never seems to be any consequences for CPS or police that miss abuse. They don’t lose their jobs, or get disciplined either way. No accountability either way. Might as well get the authoritah boner on and wave it around.

    2. There never seems to be any consequences for CPS or police that miss abuse. They don’t lose their jobs, or get disciplined either way. No accountability either way. Might as well get the authoritah boner on and wave it around.

    3. The idiot who is, literally, on their case, allowed the stupidly violent boyfriend of a kid’s mother to be murdered in front of the kid back in 2004.

      They had all the evidence in the world that he was actually physically abusing them, but the case worked just shrugged.

      The case worker was named in the lawsuit that the father brought, but I don’t recall the outcome.

  5. This was never about CPS or the county police protecting children. They were flexing muscles and punishing parents who refused to knuckle under. That’s the sole reason.

    1. ^This, also.

  6. Far from “protecting” the two children, the police and the CPS probably put them at greater risk than they were exposed to before

    Again with the statistics! NO!! “If it might help save just one child, aren’t we obligated to try?!”

  7. Here is a question.

    In Maryland children from 6 – 8 years old are required to be in booster seats when riding in a car

    What are the odds that those police officers happened to have one sitting in their trunk?

    So why were they not fined for transporting a child without a carseat?

    1. Necessity defense. Those kids were in imminent danger of being machine gunned by drive-by gangbangers, run over by 18-wheelers, kidnapped by ISIS white-slavers, and hit by meteorites. The risks of injury from being unsecured in the car driving them to the police officers’ station pale in significance next to those that the cops avoided.

      1. Why resort to the necessity defense when the FYTW defense will suffice?

        1. There’s a difference?

          1. Only the level of honesty. But why tell the truth when a lie will suffice.

  8. Sure. They’ll lose in court.

    So what?

    Are they going to face any punishment? Are they going to have some limit put on their authority? Is there going to be anything put in place to stop them from doing the same thing in the future?

    Then nothing will change. I won’t be surprised if they find an excuse to continue harassing the same family.

    1. They may “lose” a court case, but no government employee will lose their job or get personally fined. For the government, the justice system is just sport.

  9. But, as Troxel makes clear, the state can’t infringe on parental control over child-raising unless they have real evidence showing that there is a genuinely significant threat to the childrens’ safety and well-being

    Maybe the provable significant threat is the complete incompetence of the Montgomery County Police Department to keep the streets of Silver Spring safe for children and adults, with all the roving bands of child abductors freely roaming the neighborhoods like hyenas, right? That is, IF the Maryland CPS wants to go there. Because, otherwise, how is CPS going to justify their actions?

  10. Excellent.

    What this who era of CPS overreach needs is a test case that will definitively put the smackdown on them. This appears to be that test case. I wish the Meitivs every bit of luck, and I hope this does make it to the Supreme Court.

    1. I should send them money. Here is their defense fund if anyone else is interested. It’s a crime that it costs this much to protect inalienable rights.

      1. Thanks. Just donated. Gonna drink the cheaper bourbon tonight and feel just fine.

      2. I’ll pass. They get paid a lot of money from my taxes publishing AGW supporting papers.

    2. I couldn’t get past what this who.

      1. who = whole

  11. CPS will settle out of court and no one will be punished. The taxpayers, as always, will foot the bill.

  12. What’s more dangerous for the children’s welfare? Letting them walk home together without adult supervision? Or thrusting them into the national spotlight, taking them out of their home and away from their family, and sticking them in the court system?

  13. One of the problems the CPS is going to have is that most judges and jurors can remember walking to and from playgrounds themselves without it being dangerous.

    I”m sure walking a mile or more to go fishing after school is standard procedure in rural parts of the state. I remember doing that all the time in the second grade–and I grew up in Montgomery County.

    1. We used to miss the bus on purpose so that we could have a five-mile walk/adventure on the way to school. Of course we were a lot older (11 or 12).

  14. Unfortunately most people don’t have the time or money to go to trial nor do they want to further traumatize their children during the process especially if the government is still using the children to blackmail people into conformance.

  15. As much as I wanted to defend these people, I can’t. No one would dispute that the 6 year old girl is too young to be unsupervised, so that means her big brother is looking after her. Under Maryland law, you must be 13 years old to supervise another child, even for brothers and sisters. And, the more I thought about it, the ten year old really shouldn’t have the responsibility of taking care of a six year old. A ten year old doesn’t have the maturity or the attention span to look after a six year old. Having said that, the way the police handled it is insane. But they might get away with it because of the babysitting law. Just saying.

    1. Do you vote?

      If so, please stop.

      1. That’s the wittiest reply I’ve ever encountered on the internet.

        1. There’s more where that came from… Go wrap your kids in bubble wrap ’til they are 25. Then I bet you will wonder why they can’t feed themselves with out you momma-birding them.

        2. It is more a sincere plea on behalf of sane people everywhere to stop involving yourself in big people things. I’m not sure asking you to sterilize yourself is really even a bridge too far.

    2. “Under Maryland law, you must be 13 years old to supervise another child, even for brothers and sisters.” Cite?

        1. Two things:

          This looks like CPS guidelines, not codified law.

          These kids were not home alone. No one was babysitting.

          1. Ok. I guess the ten year old wasn’t supervising his sister, then she was on her own, I guess? Too young to be in silver spring without someone responsible looking after her. Some of the worst drivers in the county. My kids are almost grown and I can tell you that here is no way I’d let my 6 year old walk down Georgia avenue without at least teenage supervision. You could possibly understand just how bad the drivers are. The author says suburban middle class, it’s one of the rougher “suburbs” of DC. Heavy traffic. More accidents in that area than almost anywhere else in the country. Where stop signs are a suggestion and cars honk at pedestrians with the walk signal. As an adult you better be careful and have a thick skin. As a kid? Jesus.

        2. As R.Young said, that’s not actually a cite to a law-it’s just a county website. And even if it were the law, it wouldn’t apply in this case because these kids weren’t left at home alone.

    3. A ten year old does have the maturity to watch over his six year old sister on their walk home through the neighborhood, if he wasn’t raised by retards. Just saying.

      1. Great opinion. The law states otherwise. I mean, change the law then, but as it affects this case, it’s already on the books. What you or I personally think has no bearing.

        1. So what? Even if it’s the law, it’s a stupid law.

        2. “What you or I personally think has no bearing”

          I’d nullify. It has some possible bearing.

      2. Great opinion. The law states otherwise. I mean, change the law then, but as it affects this case, it’s already on the books. What you or I personally think has no bearing.

        1. Actually, the law says no such thing. You linked to a county website, which is not the law.

          1. I’m sorry you didn’t like the county government site. Maryland is pretty specific about this. You can google it. I live here.

        2. I always feel that the sort of people who take the attitude that “the law is the law” are the lowest form of human scum.

          1. Nope. I said work on changing the law. Where’d you get that from?

          2. Pedophiles are worse but they are often the same people.

    4. Fuck off, slaver pussy. It’s not your business, nor the state’s.

      1. Get ’em Francisco! The Gov didn’t breed that.

    5. do you breed?

      if so, please stop.

    6. I dispute BOTH that it’s necessary to supervise a 6 year old AND, that an 10 year old is to young to supervise one.

      1. Calvin would have been in Juvie by now.

    7. No one would dispute that the 6 year old girl is too young to be unsupervised

      I would.

      My school district would. Kindergartners aren’t to walk to school unescorted, but 1st graders can. 3rd graders can escort younger siblings.

      Your experience/opinion is not universal.

  16. Danielle published a scientific paper that supports AGW. She is a government hack that is playing liberty types.

    1. What the fuck does that have to do with her human right to raise her children.

      We don’t punish people for publishing research we don’t like by taking their children away, do we?

      1. She is being portrayed as some victim of the machine. My point is that she is a statist that is part of the machine. It looks like she wants her cushy coercion-funded position but doesn’t want the rules to apply to her.

        And I’m not punishing her, the statist village where she lives is. I don’t agree with Montgomery County but I’m also not going to hold a sign for her. I’m pointing out something that no other has bothered to look into and suggesting before liberty supporters donate their earned money to her they think about the fact that they are already being forced to pay her (likely more than they earn) to support a position that is being used to reduce their freedom and increase the amount they will be forced to pay to the state.

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  18. There has to be accountability and Personal liability for any civil servant, including police and CPS workers that abuse and exceed their authority. One of the lessons we were all SUPPOSED to learn from WWII, and the Nuremberg War Trials, was that ” I was just following Orders” is not a valid defense. My understanding was that the U.S. Military, for example, are clearly instructed that they are not to follow an unlawful order. This concept of qualified immunity for police officers has got to end. When did we all wake up and the society we knew and were raised in, where we walked to school, police officers were the good guys, and sneaking across a border into another country was illegal, was all turned completely upside down? Accountability and personal liability have to be reinstated. Personally, I think 99% of Border Patrol Agents would LOVE to kick some illegal asses out of the country! Instead, they are ORDERED to ignore identity theft committed by illegals, because they had no other way of legally getting a social security number. They are ORDERED to ignore illegal aliens who have committed 3 or fewer crimes. Wait, the first 3 are freebies? Did I miss a memo someplace? That’s it, I am officially a curmudgeon. All of you, yes you, get off my lawn! Mumbles under breath talking to self. It’s the nutpunches, that’s the problem. I love Reason, and they do a vital service, but damn, those nutpunches, after a while, just start to mess with my brain.

  19. The only trial that would ensue if I were in their place would be the murder trial when I killed them all.

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