Naomi Schaefer Riley explains at AEI.
Details and registration here:
Panelists include Walter Olson, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute, Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies; Stephanie Barclay, Assistant Professor, J. Reuben Clarke School of Law, Brigham Young University; formerly Legal Counsel, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; Sarah Warbelow, Legal Director, Human Rights Campaign; Robin Fretwell Wilson, Roger and Stephany Joslin Professor of Law, University of Illinois College of Law; Elizabeth Bartholet, Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; Faculty Director, Child Advocacy Program; Margaret Brinig, Fritz Duda Family Chair in Law, Notre Dame School of Law; Mark Montgomery, Professor of Enterprise and Leadership, Grinnell College; coauthor, Saving International Adoption: An Argument from Economics and Personal Experience; Irene Powell, Professor of Economics, Grinnell College; coauthor, Saving International Adoption: An Argument from Economics and Personal Experience; and Ryan Hanlon, Vice President of Education, Research, and Constituent Services, National Council for Adoption.
America has developed its own decentralized and pluralist approach to adoption, with a wide variety of both private and public actors helping match children with the families they need along several paths: adoption of older children in public care, including the foster-to-adopt path; adoption of newborns; and international adoption. But services for children in public care have been swept up in controversy over what if any role is appropriate for religious and other agencies that decline to work with gay parents or that give preference to cobelievers. The rate of international adoption, once hailed as a success, has plunged in recent years. Meanwhile, the domestic foster care system has long been beset by policy challenges.
How can government policy best avoid placing obstacles in the way of finding permanent homes for children? Are there ways to respond to legitimate concerns about international adoption, such as official corruption, that do not simply close down that process? What is the role of pluralism, and can groups with differing objectives and fundamental premises work side by side?
Cato’s half-day conference, featuring keynote speaker Elizabeth Bartholet, a Harvard law professor and noted adoption expert, will air a variety of informed views. Topics will include the conflict between LGBT advocates and some conservative religious agencies over the latter’s participation in state child placement systems; sources and possible solutions of the crisis in international adoption; and the proper role and practical effect of birth mother choice.
Do teenagers have a constitutional right to drivers’ education as a part of substantive due process? That’s one question raised by a hard-fought battle over federal judge Janis Jack’s virtual takeover of the Texas foster care system. The state has strongly pressed its defense, and the Fifth Circuit has stayed Jack’s injunction. As with earlier ventures into institutional reform litigation in such fields as school finance and busing, special education, and prison reform, the case raises separation of powers issues by transferring the power of the purse into judicial hands and delegating essentially legislative powers to special masters and, implicitly, to private advocacy lawyers who drive the process. [Mark Pulliam/Law and Liberty, first and second parts; Robert T. Garrett, Dallas News; more on foster care, institutional reform litigation and its frequent result, consent decrees]
Updating our Sept. 11 (“Neglect Your Kid Now, Sue for $5M Later” and Sept. 26, 2006 items: Lifeway for Youth, a foster-care training agency, has agreed to pay $200,000 to settle Donna Trevino’s suit seeking $5 million over the death of her 3-year-old son, allegedly at the hands of his foster parents. “Trevino told police in April to take her children; that her son Marcus Fiesel, who was developmentally disabled, and his older brother and infant sister, were not her problem.” The money is supposed to be used on behalf of Marcus’s siblings, who may also be beneficiaries of further lawsuits being pursued against other defendants. (Eileen Kelley, “Birth mother settles lawsuit”, Cincinnati Enquirer, Feb. 10).
More on the Marcus Fiesel/Donna Trevino case, as noted here Sept. 11: “The birth mother who sued Butler County for $5 million over her son’s death in foster care had no intention of reuniting with the boy, according to court records The Enquirer obtained Monday. In addition, the attorney who stands to gain millions in the civil case if the case is successful knew that.” (Sheila McLaughlin, “Birth mom didn’t want Marcus”, Cincinnati Enquirer, Sept. 26)(hat tip: reader D.B.).
Are religious exemptions to discrimination laws, in areas like foster care, adoption, higher education, and government contract compliance, an “assault on LGBTQ rights”? Cato has now reprinted my comments last month for a House Oversight Committee hearing on that subject. The hearing itself (at which I was not a witness) can be viewed here.
- Educated Canadian circles have politely indulged theories about how indigenous sovereignty is purer and more legitimate than so-called settler government. Ten thousand land acknowledgments later, comes the reckoning [J.J. McCullough, Washington Post] Read and marvel: “As lawyers and legal academics living and working on this part of Turtle Island now called Canada, we write to demand…” [Toronto Star; similarly, David Moscrop, Washington Post]
- Plaintiff’s lawyers in talc case played footsie with Reuters reporters: “Judge Sanctions Simmons Hanly for ‘Frivolous’ Disclosure of Johnson & Johnson CEO’s Deposition” [Amanda Bronstad, New York Law Journal]
- Bernie Sanders’ disastrous rent control plan [Cato Daily Podcast with Ryan Bourne and Caleb Brown] Housing construction unwelcome unless public? Vermont senator boosts opposition to East Boston plan to build mix of 10,000 market and affordable new homes on defunct racetrack [Christian Britschgi]
- Happy to get a request from Pennsylvania to reprint and distribute my chapter on redistricting and gerrymandering, found on pp. 293-299 of the Cato Handbook for Policymakers (2017). If you’re interested in the topic, check it out;
- Family courts deciding the future of a child commonly don’t take testimony from foster carers. Should that change? [Naomi Schaefer Riley/Real Clear Investigations, quotes me]
- Supreme Court will not review Ninth Circuit ruling that Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment prohibits city of Boise from enforcing law against homeless encampments when there are insufficient beds available in shelters [Federalist Society teleforum and transcript with Andy Hessick and Carissa Hessick]
Two big stories yesterday at the Supreme Court about the much-contested crossroads of discrimination law and religious exemption. In one, the Court “agreed to review a challenge to Philadelphia’s policy of excluding Catholic Social Services from its foster care system because of its refusal to place children with same-sex couples.” It’s not quite the case some readers will expect, though:
Note that Philadelphia was enforcing a local ordinance of its own making; the case is thus on a very different footing than if it were, say, a challenge to the Obama-era regulations (which HHS has since proposed to rescind) that tried to arm-twist all states and cities into adopting policies like Philadelphia’s. In the HHS episode, it was the liberal side of the controversy that was trying to impose a uniform standard from coast to coast; in this case, it is some conservative religious groups that hope to do that. Scott Shackford has more in a piece at Reason quoting my views, as does the Christian Science Monitor in a piece last week.
In the other case, Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, called on the Court to revisit a 1977 precedent in which it interpreted federal employment discrimination law so as not to require employers to accommodate workers’ religious beliefs if doing so would involve more than de minimis cost or disruption. Back then, it was mostly liberals who wanted a standard less favorable to employers than that; since then many liberals and conservatives have swapped places on the issue. The full piece is here.
A new HHS plan to rescind LGBT bias rules would back the feds away from one of the most hotly contested frontiers of the culture wars, the role of religious agencies in foster care and adoption. I explain in a new Cato post.