Sadly, many attorneys and divorce court judges use this excuse to take on power that is NOT theirs by right. The idea that a right can be eliminated just because it conflicts with another right would make rights themselves meaningless. Religious rights guaranteed under the First Amendment are often in conflict with the rights of others or the rights of the State but those conflicts do not deprive the individual of their First Amendment rights. What happens when the State wants to force your children to pledge allegiance to the flag but your religious convictions forbid that act? Do you suddenly lose all of your religious freedoms simply because your right conflicts with the rights of the State? The very idea is absurd and the country would likely rise up in rebellion if that were the case.
How is it then that an attorney trained in the law or a divorce court judge sworn to uphold the constitution can look you in the eye and with a straight face tell you that your conflict with your soon to be ex causes you to lose all of your parental rights to the State? How is it that they assume all power to decide all things about your children just because two parents disagree on any particular issue? There is NO good answer for how these people can do these things. It is beyond me to understand what kind of twisted logic going on in their heads allows them to treat parental rights so completely differently than how other rights are treated. But I do know that no excuses or any twisted logic that they use give them the RIGHT.
in an effort to debunk this common lie (deception), I am presenting some of what the United States Supreme Court says on the matter. These first quotes come from Minersville School Dist. v. Gobitis as case decided by the Court in 1940. “Our present task, then, as so often the case with courts, is to reconcile two rights in order to prevent either from destroying the other. But, because in safeguarding conscience we are dealing with interests so subtle and so dear, every possible leeway should be given to the claims of religious faith.” Here the Court makes clear that the “reconciliation” of the rights must “prevent either from destroying the other.” This statement directly contradicts what so many divorce courts say.
What the Court did in this instance, many of us may disagree with, and, in fact, the Court seems to contradict this opinion in later opinions where it allowed First Amendment freedoms to trump the State’s protection of the flag. In the Minersville Schoool District opinion the Court upheld the school district’s requirement that children attending that school pledge allegiance to the flag but it went to great lengths to also show that religious freedoms do not disappear even in this instance. Parents remain free to do as these parents did and educate their children outside of the public school system where they are provided more direct control. An enlightening statement from this opinion reinforces the notion that rights cannot be defeated just because they conflict with others, “The preciousness of the family relation, the authority and independence which give dignity to parenthood, indeed the enjoyment of all freedom, presuppose the kind of ordered society which is summarized by our flag… That is to say, the process may be utilized so long as men’s right to believe as they please, to win others to their way of belief, and their right to assemble in their chosen places of worship for the devotional ceremonies of their faith, are all fully respected.”
I chose this particular quote precisely because it both illustrates the proper way to approach rights in conflict, even where the result is one we may disagree with, and because it highlights how precious family relationships are and highlights the “authority and independence” that are the cornerstones of parenthood. These cornerstones are often broken and dispersed by divorce courts acting under the false assumption that they have authority to wipe out your parental rights on a whim.
This is but one case of many that illustrates this important principle of constitutional law, rights in conflict MUST be resolved in a manner that leaves the basic rights intact.