Attacks On Family And Parental Rights – With Jeremy Newman: Have you heard about the Texas parental rights case where an UNRELATED boyfriend won custody of little 5 year-old Ann? This is an important case that will affect the fundamental rights of parents. Tune in to hear Jeremy Newman from the Texas Homeschool Coalition explain what you can do to protect essential freedoms.
Air Date: 04/30/2020
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: Â As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith and the Culture
President Thomas Jefferson said, “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves. And if we think they’re not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. It’s WallBuilders Live and we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith and the culture, always from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective. That conversation is with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders; Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders and my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas legislator and America’s Constitution coach. You can check us out at wallbuilderslive.com and also wallbuilders.com.
It’s our two websites, great information to both websites. The WallBuilders Live website has archives of the program, list of stations around the country where you can hear us. It also has the video series on quarantines and the Constitution, breaks down that issue for you, constitutionally, historically. And then we are always looking at the subjects like that from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective, so that we can analyze, especially today on Foundations of Freedom Thursday, those foundational principles that produce a good society and allow for freedom.
Now, typically, we get a ton of questions and we take your questions and that drives the conversation, but today, we’re going to do it just a little bit different. Jeremy Newman is going to be with us a little later in the program, talking about a case out of Texas on parental rights. And of course, that’s something we talk about a lot on the program because it is a fundamental freedom, so Foundations of Freedom Thursday is a great time to talk about this. And there are definitely people in the country that don’t think parental rights are a constitutional right or a God given right. They really think that the State should decide the relationship between the parent and the child and the State should decide how the child should be raised.
Yeah, this is a big problem because when you go back to the very beginning, before there was ever civil government, there was family government. And the first really kind of government you have is the government of the family that God established back in the book of Genesis. And so, before there was a community, before there was a society, there was family government and a family structure and that has been the basis of everything that’s happened since then. From the family, you get the church; from the church, you got the community; from the community, you get the society; from the society, you have civil government, but it all comes from the family, it all starts with the family.
The Building Block of the Family
And so, it’s not surprising that if you want to change the culture, you go after the building block of culture and that is the family. So, we’re seeing some straight-out attacks on family right now, particularly on the rights of parents. Do they have the right to educate their kids? Do they have the right to raise their kids? Do they have the right to even have their kids known house with them, is this case is going to deal with today? It’s amazing, this fundamental right is under attack.
Well, this is one of the things too. You see a lot in the progressive movement. You see a lot in kind of Marxist, communist, even socialist regimes, is that it disintegrates the family from being a family unit and being individuals of the States. And when you remove family rights and we this in Europe. Where in Europe, I mean, it’s almost as if the governments in many of these nations see children as wards of the State.
Therefore, it is their responsibility to make sure that the kids get this, you know, X, Y, and Z, whatever it is and the parents are almost hindrances to the goal of the State instead of recognizing much more from the biblical model that absolutely God made the mom and dad to be the ones in charge of raising that child. That is not the government’s job responsibility. The government job is very limited when it comes to children, because they’re not the ones that God tasked with raising children.
This is where though once you lose a lot of the moorings, certainly, we were talking about the biblical worldview, if you don’t know the Bible, you don’t know how to apply the Bible, you don’t know what it says, you don’t know how to live your life based on those standards, it’s going to make society look different. And this is even one of the reasons the founding fathers argued in favor of the morals of the Bible, because they knew for a society to work as a free society, there had to be a structure of morals and there’s no greater morals than those taught in the Bible, so they promoted the Bible. But the fundamental basis of the Bible is really about the family structure. We know just looking practically at nations, when there is a strong family structure, the communities is stronger, the State is stronger, the nation is stronger. When there are more broken families, you have a harder time when it comes to economics, with economic policies with social programs, you have a harder time with education, with educational accomplishments, with you go down the list.
Almost like there isn’t an area that it doesn’t touch in a negative way when the family breaks down.
Who is in Charge of the Family
And you’re exactly right. And this is why when you even see the counter of cultures of, do we want more government, less government? Part of the conversation really revolves around who is the one in charge of the kids, in charge of the family. And this is where you see a big struggle between the government determining and dictating and mom and dad being able to determine the dictate, what they believe is best for that child and this is where you see the battle today.
One of the things we’ve seen that’s been really counterproductive to an individual kind of society or a free market type of society toward a government society is the education system. Education is really primed people for socialism that we need to get away from free market, we need to get away from individuals and we need more government.
And so, the reaction to parental rights and part of the way you can measure parental rights is even by the reaction of homeschooling, because that’s the ultimate parental rights. I want to raise my kids. I want to educate my kids. We’re seeing from Harvard that they’re actually a professor there has called for a ban on homeschooling: parents should never be allowed to raise their kids. And so, we’re going to have a conference here at Harvard to get all the experts from around the world and across the nation together to talk about how to ban homeschooling. We don’t want parents raising their kids. And as the article goes, as this professor express it, it’s real clear that when you have independent thinking kids, that’s a real problem for the State and we don’t want that.
And specifically, the professor said, we don’t want parents educating their kid. Right? Because they would argue, no, you can raise your kids, they just shouldn’t be with you all the time. They need some outside voices to tell them things that you won’t tell them. So, it portrays parents in this situation, especially parents who want to homeschool their kids, it’s because they want to be abusive, and etc, etc. The article is ridiculous. It’s gotten a lot of backlash. It’s really dumb on a lot of levels, but it does reveal the attacks we’re seeing against the nucleus of the family and against the role of mom and dad being able to educate and raise their kids being engaged in their life.
And we’ve seen the same thing now that we’ve had the COVID-19, where there’s been a forced increase in parents teaching their kids at home, because they can’t go to school. And now we’re finding that parents are saying, hey, this is not what I thought it was. I think I can do this. And I’ve even heard parents telling me their kids have said, you know, we’re getting all of our lessons done by noon and the rest of the day is ours. We couldn’t get all of our schoolwork done; this is different. We want to homeschool. And so now we’re seeing, where that even public schools, as parents are putting in for homeschooling, the public schools are refusing to process the request for parents to homeschool their kids or to be moved to a homeschool Co-Op or whatever. So there still is a lot of educational resistance to this. And there’s a case that’s come up in Texas that deals with fundamental parental rights. And it’s a huge issue, because the way this case goes can either strengthen or undermine the rights of parents in all sorts of areas, not just that of education, but other areas as well.
Yet, it even comes down to the basic idea of who has those parental rights and when can your parental rights be taken away? It’s a case in Texas at the Texas Supreme Court and Jeremy Newman is going to be with us when we come back from the break to brief us on that case. Stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Abraham Lincoln said, “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”
Hey friends, this Rick Green from WallBuilders Live and I have had so many requests about, what in the world could we be studying at home right now you know I got the kids at home, they’re normally in school? Or if you homeschool, you’re looking for additional material. One-Room Schoolhouse. It is a great new series WallBuilders is putting out where you literally get a tour of the WallBuilders library as Tim Barton and Jonathan Ritchie bring history to life. There’s a couple of resources on this.
You go to YouTube and search for WallBuilders and look for a One-Room Schoolhouse. You can go to our Facebook page and get it right there on Facebook as we do it live each Monday and sometimes additional days from there. And then you can also just go to wallbuilders.com, scroll down to the bottom and we’ll be posting the videos as they come out. This is such a great way to learn and a great way for you to share with others. Gather the family around, watch the One-Room Schoolhouse and learn some great history. It’ll be vitally important to restoring our nation and bringing back these principles that made America great in the first place. Check it out email@example.com.
Thomas Jefferson said, “The Constitution of most of our States and of the United States assert that all power is inherent in the people that they may exercise it by themselves. That is their right and duty to be at all times armed, that they are entitled to freedom of person; freedom of religion; freedom of property and freedom of press.”
Welcome Jeremy Newman
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live, thanks for staying with us today. Jeremy Newman with us from Texas Homeschool Coalition, they do great work on so many different fronts. But right now, a very important parental rights battle in the state of Texas at the Texas Supreme Court. Jeremy, I know you just got out of the hearing, thanks for taking some time with us today.
Yeah, for sure. Thanks for having me on.
So, tell us what happened, you know, that led to the case and then we’ll talk about what happened today at the Texas Supreme Court. You guys have a website for this as well and we can send people to that immediately. Would you give that out for us?
Yeah, yeah. So, the website is called letherstay.com. And kind of the lead into the whole story is that back in 2016, the mother and father of this 5-year-old little girl and they had a custody agreement that they came to, because they had separated, they’re living apart and they agreed to roughly 50/50 custody of their daughter. And then, a couple years later, the mother got involved in another relationship, she ended up moving in with her boyfriend. And because she was living with her boyfriend, that also meant that the daughter ended up spending about half of her time living with the boyfriend as well. A few months after that happened, the mother died in a car accident. And so…
So, let me ask you this real quick. So, during this time period, the dad was not absent. He had joint custody, was seeing his daughter, you know, doing his fatherly job for half of the time and still taking care of her?
Custody to a Boyfriend?
Yeah, yeah. And even during the times when the daughter lived with her mother, you know, she only lived with this boyfriend and he only cared for her to the same degree you would expect any adult to. I mean that the only reason she was there was because her mother was there, it had nothing to do with the boyfriend, in other words. And so then, a little bit before the mother died, she got engaged to her boyfriend. And so, after she died, the boyfriend comes to court and files for custody of the daughter and he had only lived with her cumulatively for between five and six months up to this point.
And she’s how old?
Okay. So, she’s got 5 years with dad, five months with this guy?
Yeah, and I mean, she’s five now, she was I think 3 or 4 at the time.
But yeah, and even during that five months, half of that time is with the dad and then half the time is really with the mom, but the living boyfriend is around?
Yeah, well, so no, actually, the five or six months are cumulative. So, they were spread out over an 11-month period and she spent about half of it with the father and about with mother and the boyfriend. Yeah. So the weird thing has happened here is that right after the mother died, her parents, so the maternal grandparents filed for custody of the daughter. And, you know, the daughter had always had good relationship with them, the mother and father had both always fostered that relationship.
And so, they hadn’t been cut out and they still weren’t being cut out after she died, but they filed for custody and the court denied them custody. And here’s the kicker. Is that the court denied them custody because it said, you’re not able to prove that the father is an unfit parent and the law requires you to prove that before you can get custody of his daughter. Which is true and that’s written into Texas law. It’s also constitutionally required. But then the really strange part was…
And that’s kind of like, just so people understand when those cases happen. I mean, it’s kind of like the presumption of innocence. In this case, you’re presumed to be a good parent, that’s, you know, old case law, that’s the way we typically go into these battles. You have to prove that the guy is an unfit parent. He doesn’t have to prove that he’s a fit parent, they got to prove he’s an unfit parent. So, we assume that he’s a fit parent and should keep custody of his daughter.
The Oldest Fundamental Right
That’s exactly right. Yeah, that’s exactly how it works. And this is, like you said, really old constitutional case law. This goes back about 100 years. In fact, the US Supreme Court describes it literally as the oldest fundamental right they’ve ever recognized. And so, the weird part happened though, when this boyfriend-turned fiancé filed for custody, the court granted him custody, even though it had denied custody to be in-laws, who had known the daughter and helped raise her and they denied to the in-laws on the grounds that you can’t prove the father is unfit. But then they granted it to this fiancé who’s had a few months with the girl.
And the argument that the fiancé made was, hey, the law that the grandparents are filing under requires them to overcome this presumption, but different law, I’m filing under does not require me to overcome the presumption, so I get to come to the court on the same footing as the Father, right? And the father’s attorney said, well, no, because the Constitution requires you to overcome this, whether Texas law does or not. So that’s the dispute we’re now having at the Texas Supreme Court is whether or not you have a constitutional right to raise your own children.
And you guys have talked about this as possibly the most important parental rights case in Texas history. And the reason is that the ramifications are huge. If the living boyfriend wins, then that means that anyone can claim to have custody rights of your child and be on equal footing with you?
Right, yeah, so that’s exactly why it’s such a big deal, is that…
You, meaning the parent, I mean, like, you don’t have that presumption of being a good parent anymore if this thing goes through?
Right, and obviously, like, nobody can predict how the court is going to right the opinion. And so, they might try and skirt around the issue or something like that. But the fundamental question they’re being asked is, do parents have this right to raise their children? And the fiancé is arguing, well, no, at least not in this case, I get to come on equal footing. And I mean, if you listen to oral arguments today, there was kind of some legal gymnastics that was taking place inside the hearing.
A Threat to Parental Rights
And this comes through in some of the briefs as well, that, you know, it’s such a novel, strange argument to make that, you know, a person with no relation to this child comes on equal footing with the biological parent. That the fiancé’s attorney is got really creative trying to come up with a reason why he should be able to argue this. And the argument they made was they said, hey, back in 2016, the mother and father entered into a custody agreement between the two of them and the act of them entering into that custody agreement back in 2016 and having the courts stamp its approval on that was that they ceded all of their parental rights to that court forever and any future party, whoever comes to modify that order no longer has to overcome their parental rights. So, this is what…
Wait, they’re saying they gave their parental rights to the court to call the shot from…? Oh, my goodness.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, they literally are arguing that the action of the two parents getting an agreed custody order from the court had the effect of them giving up their constitutional rights to their daughter and any future party who were to come in and try and modify that order, in this case, the fiancé who never had any relation to her at all, no longer has to overcome the constitutional presumption, because the parents gave up their constitutional rights.
So, for all of our parents out there listening that up to this point were thinking, okay, this case has nothing to do with me, blah, blah, blah. Listen, what that means is if you’ve ever had a divorce or had any kind of a separation where you didn’t even have a knock down drag out in court, you went in with an agreed order that your attorneys had worked out, that basically these folks are saying that means you’ve handed over your parental rights to the court and from now on the constitution doesn’t protect your basic parental Am I understanding that right, Jeremy?
A Child Unconstitutionally Taken
That’s pretty much right. So, what it would mean is, you know, you guys got a divorce and then, you know, your neighbor across the street who watches your child often enough that they think they have a strong relationship with your child gets to come to court and say, hey, because you guys had a prior custody order and I’m intervening now to modify that custody order. I no longer have to overcome your constitutional rights. And they’re a completely new party, they had nothing to do with the prior order whatsoever.
So, and I’m guessing the other side is basically saying, well, look, if they’d gotten married before the accident, he would have all these rights. I don’t practice Family Law, so I don’t know where that kicks in. Would he have had to officially have adopted the girl? I mean, does any of that even matter, but I’m sure they’re making those arguments though?
Yeah. So, if you read their briefs, in fact, they refer to the fiancé as the stepfather, even though he has no legal or biological relation to the child at all. And one of the Justices actually asked in court today, okay, you say he’s the stepfather, are you using that colloquially or is he actually a stepfather? And the attorney said, basically, well, he feels like a stepfather. So, he doesn’t have any actual legal relationship to the child, but they’re calling him the stepfather. And yes, they’re basically trying to shoo their way in to say he feels like a parent and so, he should be able to get custody like a parent.
And just to be clear, at least I haven’t seen any, there’s been no evidence presented that this father, the real father is a bad parent. I mean, when I watched the video about him, he seems like a good parent, I mean obviously, you don’t know just from that. But I mean, from what you all have seen and dug into this, I mean, it’d be different if we were trying to get, you know, some horrible dad that’s beaten the kid and you know, never shows up and leaves them out in the park by themselves for hours and for your all, is any of that happening?
Constitutional Rights Matter
No. So they actually, it’s not just that nobody has accused the father of doing anything wrong. The lower courts have actually affirmatively found that he is a fit parent and, on that basis, they denied the in-laws the ability to get custody of the daughter. I just think it’s kind of a crazy argument. In fact, I had a friend I was talking to today about it, she said, it’s the most ludicrous argument she’s heard. Because, like, you don’t need your constitutional rights until you show up in court. Right?
Like that’s the reason you need them is so that you can, you know, prevail in court once they’re challenged. And now the fiancé is arguing, well, sorry, if you’ve gone to court before to defend your constitutional rights or even here’s the crazy thing, you don’t have to have gone to court to defend them, you might be sued by someone else, show up in court ended up with a custody order and then Bob, five years down the road says, hey, I’m going to come in and assert that I have a close enough relationship with your child that I get to modify your prior custody order. And now, according to the fiancé, he has just as much right to your child as you do.
Wow, wow. Yeah. So this is very important to fight this battle and prevent this. This could really, you know, infringe upon and weaken the basic, as you said earlier, basic fundamental parental rights that the Supreme Court has said, I mean, this is a basic constitutional right to be able to raise your children the way you see fit and to be assumed to be a good parent, have to have some evidence against you otherwise, none of which is in this case. A very important case to watch. Jeremy, timeline, what do we think, you know, would be the expected decision date?
Yeah, so my best guess at this point is we’re probably looking at late summer. I mean, they could move faster. It could take longer. But that’s our best guess at this point, probably late summer when something will come out. And so, in the meantime, the really big thing that we’re trying to push for is, first of all, to create publicity on the case, make sure that people know about it and you know, make sure frankly, that the court realizes that the public is watching what they do in this case. And we’re also working to try and recruit other pro-family organizations who might come in and file briefs to defend the father just to strengthen his legal position.
And there is a petition at letherstay.com folks can add their name to that. In fact, I’ve been watching it through our interview and I mean, it’s like every two seconds, another person signing, so this is really, really good. People are waking up and realizing how important this is and getting the word out is important too so they can share on social media from that website as well, letherstay.com. Every parent in the country should be concerned about this. Fundamentally, protecting your basic right as a parent here is essential. Jeremy, thanks for all you guys do, man. I appreciate the hard work and looking forward to hopefully getting some good news from you later in the summer when this decision comes out.
Yeah, for sure. Well, I appreciate you taking the time to talk about it.
That was Jeremy Newman from Texas Homeschool Coalition, again, following that case and we’ll get him back once the decision is handed down or at least get an update for you on the program. David, Tim, I mean, you know, obviously, this has major repercussions. Because if this father loses this case, then really anybody in a kid’s life suddenly has equal footing before the court to be able to challenge your parental rights and try to get either joint custody or maybe even take custody away from you?
The Role of the Family in Society
It is crazy to think about as a parent, that you are the biological individual upbringing that offspring into existence and somebody who has only been a part of the family and arguably part of the family, right? I mean, that’s on a relative level, live-in boyfriend who becomes fiancé. And it’s such a weird scenario. And even the way that Jeremy was explaining the way the lawyers had to do gymnastics to kind of explain, well, no, he already gave up his rights when they filed for joint custody, etc. It does make any sense at all.
But it very much fits in line with some of what we’re talking about, where you are seeing a culture inside of the nation that is very much degrading toward the role of the father, toward the role of the family, the family structure, the family unit, even the idea that we wouldn’t maybe give custody to the mom’s parents, the grandparents of, but we will do this live-in boyfriend, who just became the fiancé, it doesn’t make any sense at all. And certainly, it does seem like an attack on the rights of parents.
You know, Jeremy mentioned that just hasn’t been a whole lot in law on this before. I mean, I mean, he’s kind of assumed that the biological father had rights, but there had not a whole lot in law. It’s the same way the constitution really doesn’t talk about the sun coming up in the east and going down to the west, because that’s such an obvious fact. We didn’t need to comment on it. And that’s where the culture has been for so many centuries in America. It was an obvious fact if you read the Bible, you knew that; if you’ve seen the way culture operate, you knew that, so we didn’t have to comment on it. And now we’re at a point in the culture where you really do have to kind of comment on this, otherwise there’s nothing there.
A Culture of Relativism
Well, this is where as dad, you’re alluding to when you don’t have an objective standard to define even what a family unit is, when you live in a culture of relativism, of moral relativism, this kind of subjective reality, when everybody determines truth for themselves and makes up their own rights and wrongs, it makes sense that this would be a confusing issue and confusing time for people. But when we had a culture backup in earlier America, where the Bible was still a very centerpiece of American life and culture, we had a standard to go by. But once you remove the standard, all of a sudden, it becomes a little harder to know what’s right and wrong, once everybody starts determining for themselves.
And this is going to be a precedent setting case. So, Rick, as you’re mentioning, people are kind of signing that petition, look like every couple of seconds. That’s something folks can do across the nation, may not be in Texas, but Texas courts have an impact on other courts, they side each other. And so, you can go and sign that petition and let your voice be heard and that will help the court to know that people are watching, that we want the right decision on this. That’s something everyone can do.
That’s a great point, David. And even you know, when you talk about such a fundamental right, even the slightest infringement on that right, we need to come out. I mean, like, you know, in force, everybody needs to let their voice be heard on that to push back against and let the courts know that you’ll push back if they take this away. So very important for everyone to sign that and we’ll have links today at wallbuilderslive.com to make it easy.
Sign the Petition! – With Jeremy Newman
We are out of time for today. We sure appreciate you listening to WallBuilders Live today. We encourage you to take action. Be one of those folks, that’s part of the solution. In other words, you recognize not only the rights you have under the Constitution, but the responsibility that you have corresponding with each of those rights. And part of that responsibility is getting educated about these freedoms and then teaching as many other people as you possibly can. So, do that at our website today, wallbuilderslive.com again, those videos on constitutional issues. You can also take our full Constitution class and share it with your friends and family. You can teach it to other people through our Constitution coach program and that is free right now. While you’re stuck at home, get that free Constitution host license and begin to teach that to your friends and family.
There at wallbuilders.com, there is a wealth of resources right there available for you videos and books and different series that are going to get you into these foundations that we cover on Foundations of Freedom Thursday, so check all that out at wallbuilders.com. Thank you so much for listening to WallBuilders Live.
President Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I studied the Constitution, the more I realized that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”