Is a Parental Right
By Kerry L. Morgan
ernment any power to burden, abridge,
hinder, and infringe a parent’s right?
Why give the government any power at
all over the mind of a child? We should
rather be defending the unalienable right
of parents, not confirming the power of
Congress or any state legislature. Parents
have the right to direct the education of
their own child.
This right is not fundamental. We have
something better than fundamental rights.
We have been given an unalienable right. It
is unalienable because it is given to parents
In the exercise of their natural and
unalienable right, parents are free from
federal or state interference, regulation,
While parents discharge their parental
rights within these limits, they are, by the
law of God, exempt from interference from
both the individual and society.
If they exceed these limits, however,
and go beyond education into physically
harming their children, they are not
exempt from civil punishment.
Let us support an amendment that says
this: “Parents and legal guardians have a
natural and unalienable right to direct the
care, education, and upbringing of their
children. No government action shall burden, abridge, or hinder this natural and
Photo by Rich Koele; Dreamstime
The recent California homeschooling
decision has fueled new interest in
amending the Constitution at both
the state and federal levels. For example,
the Michigan legislature has proposed
House Joint Resolution NN. 1 This amend-
ment would affirm that parents have a
“fundamental right to direct the care, edu-
cation, and upbringing of their children.”
What is a “fundamental right”? What kind
of protection does it offer parents in
schooling their children? The proposed
amendment tells us.
A fundamental parental right can be
burdened, abridged, or hindered by the
state whenever the state can establish a
compelling governmental interest. Clearly,
a fundamental parental right is not much
protection against the state legislature.
The fundamental rights movement is
also alive and well at the federal level. The
Home School Legal Defense Association
(HSLDA) has been encouraging an
amendment to the federal Constitution by
pushing “fundamental rights” language.
The proposed amendment states, “Liberty
of parents to direct the upbringing and
education of their children is a fundamen-
tal right.” 2
Again, parents are given a fundamental
right. However, the federal amendment
also empowers both the United States and
every state government to infringe upon
this fundamental parental right. If the government can “demonstrate that its governmental interest as applied to the person is
of the highest order and not otherwise
served,” the parent’s fundamental right
Can’t we propose something better than
a weak fundamental right? Indeed, the
obvious question is, Why go to all the trouble of amending the law to give the gov-
Kerry L. Morgan is an attorney and author
of Real Choice, Real Freedom in American
Education (ISBN 0-7618-0855-8). His
book is available at Amazon.com. Kerry
and his wife Elizabeth have five children.
They make their home in Redford,
Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, where they
direct the education of their children. You
can learn more about Kerry by visiting his
1. < http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/20072008/jointresolutionintroduced/House/pdf/
2008-HIJR-NN.pdf> accessed March 24, 2008.
2. < www.parentalrights.org> accessed March 24, 2008.