Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Monday, November 10, 2014

“Best Interest” Rules Against Homeschooling

I’ve talked in these radio commentaries about the legal phrase “best interest of the child.” That’s a broad term used by family court judges to impose almost any ruling they want on the children of divorcing couples. A recent blog post by law professor Eugene Volokh highlights some recent court decisions that prove how arbitrary family court rulings can be.

Eugene Volokh cites several cases that involve homeschooling. As judges decide which parent gets custody in divorce cases, some judges let their own opinions on homeschooling guide the outcome. A judge in North Carolina required one mother to enroll her children in public school “in the interests of the children being well rounded.” The New Hampshire Supreme Court issued a similar ruling, saying that a lower court judge could require a child to go to public school even if there were nothing wrong with her homeschooling education. Another judge ridiculed a homeschooling parent, saying she was educating her girls “for the Fifteenth Century, not the Twenty-First Century.”

In all of those cases, judges ruled on how children should be educated based on their judges’ own personal preference. They do not cite facts or evidence that a child is hurt by homeschooling. Mixed in with some of these opinions is a hostility towards the values that the children were learning at home. Judges say they want children to attend public school so they can benefit from diverse viewpoints, but it’s easy to imagine plenty of diverse viewpoints that parents don’t want their children to learn.

The “best interest of the child” came from English law and was our rule for centuries. It clearly meant that a childs’ own parents had the right to decide what action is in the best interest of their own children. This right was stolen from parents by family court judges, and should be restored to parents.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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