Children's Beliefs and Family Law
Margaret F. Brinig
Notre Dame Law School
September 11, 2007
Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 07-43
In a recent series of opinions authored by Justice Stevens, the Court has recognized that children may have independent religious rights, and that these may be in conflict with their parents'. The questions for this piece are whether considering children's rights independently is a good thing whether it is warranted by children's actual religious preferences and whether children's religious activities actually do anything measurable for the children.
I do not advocate that the Supreme Court become more involved with family law than it has been since the substantive due process days of Meyer and Pierce. I am also not one to "abandon children to their rights" or otherwise suggest that children should fend for themselves without their parents' help. For me, a childhood without the nurturing environment of loving parents (or at least one parent) is dismal. However, I am encouraged that the Court seems to recognize that in families with children, the children's interests do need to be considered, and will not always mirror their parents'. Children's religious attendance does seem to make measurable differences to their well-being.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 18
Keywords: children, religion, empirical, parents, 'first amendment' rights
JEL Classification: J13, K19, K39working papers series
Date posted: September 15, 2007
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