Yesterday I told you how family court judges, one in Illinois and one in New Hampshire, had ordered one child of divorced parents not to attend a Christian church and another child of divorced parents to quit homeschooling and attend public school. Do you think judges should make these decisions rather than parents? Where did judges get the notion that they have the authority to make such decisions?
Family court judges assumed this extraordinary power by co-opting the definition of a time-honored concept: "the best interest of the child." This rule originally came from English common law as compiled by William Blackstone in 1765, and it meant that parents are presumed to act in their own children's best interest. For centuries, English and American courts honored parents' rights.
Beginning in the 1970s, the "best interest of the child" became disconnected from parents' decisions, and family courts assumed the discretion to decide the best interest of children of divorced parents. The notion that persons other than parents should decide what is in a child's best interest is illustrated by the slogan "it takes a village to raise a child." Those who use that slogan understand "village" to mean government courts, government schools, or government social workers.
The best-interest rule is totally subjective; it's a matter of individual opinion. Parents make hundreds of different decisions, and should have the right to make their decisions even if they contravene the self-appointed experts. Whether the decision is big (such as where to go to church or school), or small (such as playing baseball or soccer) there is no objective way to say which is "best."
It's time to call a halt to the practice of letting family court judges make important decisions that are rightfully the prerogative of parents, even if they are divorced.
Listen to this commentary: