State as the Chief Parent Feburary 27, 2007


There is a concept in law known by the Latin phrase ?parens patriae? -- a phrase that refers to the State as the chief parent. This idea represented a view of government that was abhorrent to the framers of our Constitution, who understood government to be an occasionally useful, but always dangerous, servant ? and a deadly master.

The Founding Fathers had no intention of creating a system in which the State was considered the father or mother of our children. Yet that view is woven into policies too numerous to list. Think of it: How often do we hear a politician or pressure group make a casual reference to ?our? children ? as if the State somehow has a property interest in every child born in this country?

Sometimes that assumption is laid bare, as when Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, recently issued an executive order requiring all female schoolchildren in his state to receive a vaccination for a sexually transmitted disease. That order was rescinded after it provoked a furious reaction from Texas parents who don't subscribe to the view that their children belong to the State.

Let us stand in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.

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