All at Reason: “After a False Accusation, Police and Child Services Forced a Family Apart for 7 Months” [Robby Soave] “Cop Arrests Mom for Letting Kids Wait in Car During 10-Minute Errand” [Lenore Skenazy] “A Mother Spends a Week in Jail, Is Fired From Her Job, and Temporarily Loses Her Kids After a Police Mix-Up” [Zuri Davis]
Fueling moral panic and safety-first policies, the regularly circulated viral accounts of near-kidnapping at shopping centers and supermarkets are curiously stylized: “Inevitably, the mom congratulates herself on having had the wherewithal to figure out what was going on just in time, and bravely thwart the heinous crime by, uh, staring the guys down.” [Lenore Skenazy]
- Local crackdowns on home-sharing can do a lot of harm [Christina Sandefur, Federalist Society teleforum] Sandefur on laws banning working from home [Regulation mag, Cato Daily Podcast]
- “Apparently the ad [about a 9-year-old daughter willing to do household chores for neighbors] generated multiple phone calls from paranoid neighbors thinking I was using my child as a slave,” and next thing the sheriff called [Lenore Skenazy; Woodinville, Wash.]
- Seventh Circuit rules against “disparate impact” age discrimination claims for job applicants, and a Forbes columnist writes as if it had decided to abolish disparate treatment claims for them as well [my Twitter thread on botched coverage of Kleber v. CareFusion Corp.]
- “The Law Merchant and Private Justice. A Conversation with Professor Barry Weingast” [Kleros]
- “Disabilities Rights Group Files Lawsuit Against San Diego, Scooter Companies” [Rachel Kaufman, Next City]
- Ideology vs. kid placements: “Some 440,000 kids are in foster care in the U.S.; if we shut down [theologically conservative] faith-based foster agencies, those children will have a much harder time finding homes.” [Naomi Schaefer Riley, City Journal, earlier here, here, etc.]
I’ve got a new piece at Ricochet on the problems with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which a federal judge struck down as unconstitutional in October in a ruling (Brackeen v. Zinke) likely to be appealed. Excerpt:
One effect is to give tribal governments dangerous power over persons who never willingly submitted to their authority, including persons who have never set foot in Indian country. A couple briefly connect at a bar in Boston or Brooklyn or Baltimore one night and a child is born as a result. The father may not have mentioned at the time, indeed may only imperfectly remember, that as a child he was inducted into an affiliation with some faraway tribe toward whose leadership he has long felt indifferent or estranged. But ICWA covers as an “Indian child” any biological child of a tribal member so long as that child is “eligible for membership” in a tribe.
Sorry, Dad – and sorry, total-bystander Brooklyn Mom — but under ICWA that distant tribe now has a lot of power over your future. You are not necessarily free to make an adoption plan with some trusted member of your local community. Instead, you must submit to a distant tribal authority and prepare for the child’s possible “placement … in … homes [that] reflect the unique values of Indian culture.” What about your own cultural background as a non-Native parent, along with that of your relatives who may have been helping care for the child during his first years? Your youngster may have spent his life thus far immersed in that other culture — perhaps Korean-American, or Dominican, or African-American, or Eastern European. But the law cares not. In fact, it encourages as “ICWA-compliant” placement of your child with any Indian tribe around the country, however remote from that of either biological parent’s, in preference to any non-Native placement, however well matched to the circumstances of the child’s life thus far.
The law I really despise is the ICPC, the Interstate Compact for the Protection of Children. It was originally intended to stop states from dumping foster children in other states to take advantage of their looser welfare policies.
First, it would seem to me that this should be the price paid for having loose welfare policies, but beyond that the real effect of the law is horrendous.
What the act does is make it hard to move children to caregivers out of state without that state’s permission or agreement. That agreement can take many months. A court action to return children to parents or name the state as their conservator has to be completed within a deadline, usually one year.
So, I have several cases where the parents’ families are from out of state. They have a large family network in that other state. But we can’t move the children to that family and have to put them in foster care. By the time the ICPC is completed, the foster family has a vested interest in the children and now they are fighting, and often succeed, in keeping the children away from the blood family.
I find this result to be repulsive, and that result is not at all unusual. I have a case that just ended where the mom and the dad’s family in New Hampshire are both very fine with middle class homes and lots of family support, yet because the children had been kept in foster care the courts don’t want to “disrupt” their lives again. It’s just about the most asinine government policy ever.
This gets me curious about ICPC. Other comments about its history and workings, positive or otherwise, are welcome.
British law gives more of a share in decision-making about children’s lives to the state, and less to the parents, than is typical in American law. I like American law better. [Damian Thompson, The Spectator]
A reader recommends this piece by barrister Matthew Scott in Quillette defending the British authorities’ actions. While it fills in much useful detail, I’m not at all persuaded on the central issue of whether it was proper for British law in 1989 to oust parental rights from areas in which they had been long respected, all in the name of the best interests of the child as discerned by courts, experts, and the state. In my first book, The Litigation Explosion, I argued against the specious attractions of a best-interest-of-the-child standard in the child custody modification context, pointing out that to upset an existing decree of custody it should be needful to allege something stronger than that the child would be marginally better off with a switch, or that the case for a switch was supported by marginally better expert avowals than the case for leaving custody where it was. Instead, presumptions of stability and family integrity should be respected, to be overcome only by a strong showing of likely substantial harm from not switching. Likewise, the presumption that parents are the ones to direct their infant children’s medical care should be a strong one, rebuttable to be sure in some cases of wretched or misguided parental errancy, but not simply by rhetorical flourishes, even when embodied in law, about how the best interests of the child must conquer all and we determine what those are.
For examples of the narrower scope of parental rights in the United Kingdom and its subdivisions, see this 2015 story (parents warned they may be reported for neglect if they allow under-18s to play adult-themed videogames such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto); this from 2009 (seven children seized from obese couple in Scotland; but note American trends too); and the Scottish Named Persons scheme. More on expertise and best-interests-of-the-child standards: Megan McArdle, Jim Geraghty.
- Mother who gives 10 year old the run of a Lego store: Mom of the Year, or candidate for arrest? [Lenore Skenazy on Ontario County, N.Y. incident]
- Sorry to see WSJ Law Blog close. A wealth of valuable content, often first on stories, showcase for rising writers [farewell post]
- Oops! “The bill as [passed] …allows a pregnant woman to commit homicide without consequences.” [Lowering the Bar on New Hampshire measure]
- No, a court really didn’t overturn Florida stand-your-ground law. Let Eugene Volokh explain [Volokh Conspiracy] Still, the recently enacted procedural fillip the court did strike down was one of practical significance to many defendants [C.J. Ciaramella, Reason]
- In the mail: John Corvino et al., Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination. Good opening essay [Oxford University Press]
- What one bad lawyer can do: feds chase $600 million in disability claims linked to fugitive Eric Conn [Chris Edwards, Cato]
- “California’s Absurd and Insidious ‘Bill of Rights for Children’ Invites Pernicious Meddling” [Jacob Sullum]
- “1 in 4 U.S. teachers are chronically absent, missing more than 10 days of school,” and rate in some districts reaches 80+%; AFT chief Randi Weingarten cites “root causes” [Alejandra Matos, Washington Post]
- Steve Horwitz reviews Abby Schachter’s book No Child Left Alone: Getting the Government Out of Parenting [Law and Liberty, earlier] “Napping Child Left in Car While Parents Run Quick Errand, Everyone Loses Their Minds” [Lenore Skenazy; Valley Stream, Long Island]
- Ex-teacher who passed out after showing up drunk to elementary school field trip gets $18,000 settlement to resign, then further $75,000 on argument town should not have released her blood alcohol results [Fox News; Janesville, Wisc.]
- Employment complaint filed on behalf of assistant principal against Chappaqua, N.Y. school district makes unfortunate first impression by misspelling name of Horace Greeley High School [Taylor complaint via @TheSuburbanist; Examiner News, Chappaqua Voice]
- “Youth hockey game leads to adult spectator fight — is the league liable?” [Eugene Volokh]
I’m one of four participants in a symposium at Cato Unbound this month on the Indian Child Welfare Act. Timothy Sandefur (Goldwater Institute) writes the principal paper to which I respond; other responders include Profs. Matthew L. M. Fletcher (Michigan State) and Kristen Carpenter (Colorado). Earlier coverage of the Indian Child Welfare Act here. Excerpt from my contribution:
Someday we might want to design a legal regime that minimizes state intrusion into families, limits the discretion of faraway bureaucrats, and empowers parents by clarifying their rights. But ICWA sure isn’t it. It’s a power play that’s meant to serve the interests of one governmental actor on the scene, the tribe. It regards children and parents as tribal resources to be conscripted, and it designates a vastly overbroad group of children to grab as “Indian children,” the better to maximize resource intake.
This is quite insane [Lenore Skenazy]:
The New Albany, OH, chief of police is advising parents not to let their kids go outside on their own until they are 16.
According to this piece on News10:
New Albany’s police chief wants parents to understand that kids younger than 16 simply cannot defend themselves against an attacker.
Chief Greg Jones says 16 is the appropriate age to allow children to be outside by themselves. “I think that’s the threshold where you see children getting a little bit more freedom,” he says.
Not a lot of freedom, mind you. Just a “little bit.”
As readers have pointed out on social media, the timing of the chief’s recommendation suggests that teens will be able to make the transition directly to driver’s license status without having to do something truly scary in the mean time like walking down the block by themselves.
New Albany is a growing suburb of Columbus, the capital of Ohio, with a low crime rate. Its Wikipedia page is here.
We’ve warned for a while about the scheme in Scotland to appoint a state functionary, a so-called Named Person, to look after the interests of every child — not just every child in state care or for whom there are indicia of dangerous neglect or abuse, but every child, period. Now the results are coming in from early rollout of the scheme in some parts of the country. [The Scotsman]
[The professor’s] shock was compounded by the fact that work on this dossier, known as a Family Record, had started without his knowledge. He had only discovered its existence by accident long after the details of his home life had begun to be recorded. Furthermore, it was only after an eight-month battle with his local health board that he managed to obtain a redacted version of the document, which began to be compiled after an acrimonious break-up with his wife which led to a protracted legal row over access to their two children.
Initially pushed through with little opposition, the plan is now causing political grief for the ruling Scottish Nationalist Party of Nicola Sturgeon. Ruth Davidson, leader of the third-place Scottish Conservative Party, has called for rethinking the scheme, and now Scottish Labour Party leader Kezia Dugdale has suggested a halt to its implementation, while still favoring it in principle. The scheme is set to become effective for Scotland as a whole on August 1.
Tragic cases like that of 11-week-old Caleb Ness, the Edinburgh baby killed by his father despite the involvement of social work and health staff, have convinced the Scottish Government that action has to be taken. Indeed, the Named Person approach has the support of many organisations within civic Scotland, including children’s charities and teaching unions, who believe it will help struggling families and prevent tragedies…. In general, health visitors will act as Named Persons for pre-school children, with head teachers taking up the mantle as they get older.
Where not redacted, the 60-page file on the professor’s family had included observations on his children appearing to have diaper rash and runny noses not cleaned for a while, and observed the father “did not appear to take advice on board fully” regarding the thumb-sucking habit of his younger son:
“I find it sinister. I find it very creepy. I find it chilling,” he said. “They just hoover up all of this hearsay and then collate it into huge documents and on to databases. Under the new legislation all sorts of people have access to these databases. All they need is four or five reasons for intervention and they can hoover up information from any database and there is no control over whether this is true or not.”
[cross-posted at Cato at Liberty]