You are on page 1of 2

All members of the Michigan House Cosponsoring Joint Resolution NN, Your House Joint Resolution NN, asking the voters

to approve an amendment to Michigan's constitution recognizing the fundamental rights of parents to raise their children, has sat without action in the House Judiciary Committee since January. As the US Supreme Court held in Troxel V Granville, parents have a fourteenth amendment due process right to heightened protection against government interference with their fundamental rights and liberty interests, including the care, custody, and control of their children. This amendment would ensure that Michigan courts understand this federal right and protect it in all state proceedings. These due process rights of parents to care for their children are not consistently being respected in Michigan's courts today, and that is having a negative impact on parents and their children. For example, a recent child custody survey that I conducted showed serious flaws in mediation, and a disconcerting pattern of rubber stamp rulings by judges on matters of child custody: 82% of respondents who met with a mediator felt that he or she did not act with "honesty, integrity, and impartiality" 85% of respondents who met with a mediator felt that he or she was not a neutral third party. (MCR 3.216) 89% of respondents who met with a mediator felt that he or she did not facilitate communication between parties to promote settlement (MCR 3.216) 32% of respondents did not, or believed that they did not, meet with a mediator (MCL 552.513) 94% of respondents reported that referees either issued no report, issued a report that was substantially identical to that of the custody evaluator, or took other actions with the same effect. (MCL 552.507) 0% of respondents who requested de novo hearings reported that judges made a different conclusion on de novo review. Many respondents reported irregularities when selecting “other”. See report Renee Beeker, chair of the National NOW Family Law section also recognizes these problems, condemning "so-called neutral court evaluators who sit with litigants on one side of the courtroom", and says "These rulings, advocates say, can decide a child's primary caretaker for years but they may be based on brief encounters with a family" Children are harmed when we ignore the rights of their parents to protect them. As the US Supreme Court has repeated over and over:

"[O]ur constitutional system long ago rejected any notion that a child is the mere creature of the State and, on the contrary, asserted that parents generally have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare [their children] for additional obligations" I urge you to pass HJR-NN. The majority of legislators support it, the people will certainly support it, respecting the rights of parents is consistent with our principles of democracy and with a long tradition of US Supreme Court decisions, and it will help both parents and their children. Sincerely, Doug Dante