The Stumbo Decision - Turning the Tide
- Wednesday, October 01, 2003
HOW DOES IT FIT INTO WHAT IS GOING IN THE COUNTRY?
Taking on a case like Calabretta or Stumbo is an important component in HSLDA's battle to protect families from social workers who don't understand or don't care about the Constitution.
"We don't want what happened to the Calabrettas to happen in other places," Mason said. "When families stand firm and God grants us victory in the courts, each decision more firmly establishes legal principles around the country."
Since Calabretta, several other courts have handed down decisions telling social workers the Fourth Amendment applies to them, too.
Even the United States Congress has recognized this problematic pattern of social workers not respecting citizens' rights. Congress just put another tool in HSLDA's legal toolbox. Recent amendments to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), also known as the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 (S. 342), mandate that social workers must be trained in Fourth Amendment rights. (See "President Bush signs 'Keeping Children & Families Safe Act of 2003'" on page 38.)
This movement to make social services abide by common sense and the Constitution is helping HSLDA better defend our members. In a recent Arkansas case, where social workers demanded to search a family's allegedly "messy" home, the social workers asked a judge to order the family to cooperate, without telling the family or their HSLDA attorneys that they were applying for the order. As soon as HSLDA learned of this legal maneuver, we moved to quash the judge's order. Based on the Fourth Amendment arguments in HSLDA's brief (which also cited recent helpful court decisions), the prosecutor agreed with our position and told the judge the state no longer had a case.
"We couldn't get that to happen without cases like Stumbo, Calabretta, Roe, and Doe," said Mason. "The notion of people standing up for liberty and for consitutional rights is important. Jim and Mary Ann Stumbo said they stuck with their case because they're motivated to help other people-it really does work!"
WHY IS THE STUMBO CASE SO IMPORTANT?
"Homeschooling parents love children and the last thing we want to see is children being abused," Mike Smith said. "Of course, we want to see child abusers punished to the fullest extent of the law. However, there are too many unnecessary investigations of a single incident in an otherwise obviously happy and healthy family. Not every report amounts to neglect as a matter of law and families should be left alone when that happens. If we don't stand by our constitutional rights, we will lose them."
"The Constitution protects our right to privacy in our homes and right to care for, protect, and direct the education of our children. Unless there is real evidence of wrongdoing, states need to stay out of our homes. Social workers are agents of the state and they must have credible evidence before they can intrude into the family," Jim Mason added.
"Our members who are standing with us in the cause of liberty are really doing tremendous work," Smith pointed out. "It wasn't easy for the Stumbos, it wasn't easy for the Calabrettas or any other family, but our members are standing for liberty every day."
Because of parents like the Stumbos who anchor their families' rights in the Constitution, the courts are listening, Congress is responding, and social service agencies are getting the message. Together, these courageous families are helping to form a solid seawall protecting liberty. The tide is turning.
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