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Family Law
St. Johns University School of Law
Chiu, Elaine M.


Meyer v. Nebraska (15)
Children not allowed to be taught foreign languages in schools until after 8th grade
We had just finished WWI–antagonistic Germany + spread of Communism
Brings suit under 14th Amendment due process clause
Notice and opportunity to be heard
Court has stepped back from adding substantive rights to it–not dead
There may be some family substantive due process
Nebraska was arguing for a culturally unified society
Meyer argued that this was not an effective way to do it
Court argues that these are just rights that we all have–common law and pursuit of happiness
Analysis boils down to identification of interest at stake, followed by weighing the interest against state interests
This is the rational basis test

Pierce v. Society of Sisters (16)
Children had to go to public school
Parents’ rights (family) and schools’ rights (economic)
Both are substantive rights under the Fourteenth Amendment
Court says that it isn’t a big deal just to monitor the private schools

Both cases seem to suggest that there is a benefit to diversely educated children
Not a mere creature of the state
Children are individuals
There are rights of parents to bring up children
Meyer used “natural, God-given duty”

Griswold v. Connecticut (1)
Fast-forwards the development of family law
Government has police power that extends beyond law enforcement
Several sources of privacy are listed to identify the right at stake
Goal was really to limit non-procreative sex and the law doesn’t work
All you do is mess with the marital bedroom
There’s no real curbing of illicit sex

Fundamental Rights in the family law context, what are they?

o The right to marry
o The right to rear and raise children without government interference
o The right to privacy

Meyer v. Nebraska (Right of parents to decide children’s upbringing- School)

Court rules a Nebraska statute prohibiting the teachings of other languages than English is a violation of due process.
The right of parents to have children attend a school of their choosing is a fundamental right.

Pierce v. Society of Sisters (Right of parents to decide children’s upbringing- School)

Court rules a statute requiring mandatory attendance of a public school for children 8-16 unreasonably infringes with the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control.
Statute has no reasonable relation to some purpose within competency of the state.

Griswold v. Connecticut à Privacy ( contraceptives)

Marriage is a basic and fundamental right deep rooted in our nation’s history.
CT law barring the sale and use of contraceptives infringed on the right of marital privacy

Ø 14th amendment is @ stake as well as privacy rights.

Eisenstaedt v. Bairdà Privacy ( contraceptives)

Court strikes down law only allowing married people to use contraceptives.
The court finds no rational basis for the statutes different treatment of married and unmarried persons.
Under Griswold only married people have an expectation of privacy. Eisenstaedt changes that to include all individuals
This arose from an equal protection challenge that the statute in question discriminated against non married individuals.
“The right of individual, married or single to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.”- Language from Eisenstaedt- Decisional intrusion
The nightmare vision described in Griswold involved cops kicking down the door to search for contraceptives. – Spatial intrusion

Lawrence v. Texas ( Anti Sodomy Laws)

Court strikes down anti Sodomy Laws
But Sodomy isn’t the issue; the issue is whether the majority can dictate what the minority does in private. Essentially what is at stake is the liberty of individuals to associate freely with whom they choose. <~ Discrimination
The states interest here was also deemed weak- Public Morality is no longer a legitimate state interest that justifies such an intrusion.

After this case who has the right to privacy?

Married Couples
Hetero and Homosexual couples

After these cases, what does our right to privacy entail?

Right of parents to control children’s education
Right to use contraceptives/ protection of marital bedroom
Right to make decisions about childbearing
Right to make decisions about consensual sexual relationships? Yes but not included below:

Anti fornication
Anti- incest
Anti- Bestiality
Anti prostitution
Anti- Bigamy
Anti- Adultery
Same Sex Marriage

Loving v. Virginia ( Interracial Marriage/ Right to marry)

Court strikes down statute preventing whites from marrying non-whites.
Ct. Reasons the 14th amendment was enacted to end all official state sources of racial discrimination.
Ct. also reasons the statute violates the equal protection clause because the statute only prohibits interracial marriages between whites and other races.
Freedom to marry is a basic civil right of all men. – People can marry whoever they want.
Racial distinctions= Strict Scrutiny under Equal Protection clause.

Zablocki v. Redhail ( State intrusion into right to marry)

Ct. Strikes down Wisconsin statute requiring permission of the state to marry if you already have a child not from the current couple which is owed child support.
Ct. designates right to marry as fundamental and critical examination of the states interest is warranted here. àLoving v. VA
This falls under rational basis examination (other classifications box) but the court here decides to use a higher standard. [ sufficiently important state interests] In order for this statute to remain valid, the state must prove it is protecting important state interests tailored to effectuate only those interests.
Ct. agrees the interest is valid, but the statute is too broad and infringes upon ones right to marry.

Zabolicki & Due Process

Scrutiny for Regulations of marriage:

Fundamental rights + direct& substantial interference à strict scrutiny

Fundamental rights +Reasonable regulation à Mild scrutiny

Strict Scrutiny= For signi

another flight stop over 13 years prior to the controversy insufficient to establish minimum contacts.
Court holds that a parent cannot be hauled into court in another state simply because the other parent resides there and the children live there. This would discourage parents from entering into reasonable custody agreements.
Just because P gave his daughter permission to live in CA with her mother, he can hardly be said to have purposely availed himself of the benefits and protections of CA’s laws.

Sosna v. Iowa ( Durational Residency requirements in divorce jurisdiction)

Court rules that Iowa’s one year residential requirement to enact divorce proceedings is constitutional.
Court rules that there is no due process violation because there is no deprivation of rights, only a delay.
The states interests for having the one year resident period are valid; all 50 states have some sort of residential requirement for divorce proceedings.
Not becoming a divorce mill, minimizing its divorce decrees to susceptibility, not intermeddling in matters in which another state has paramount interest.

Clark v. Jeter ( Support Rights of non marital Children)

o Court rules a 6 year state SOL for paternity actions is unconstitutional on equal protection grounds under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.
o The statute at issue here couldn’t withstand intermediate scrutiny which has generally been applied to discriminatory classifications based on sex or illegitimacy.
o For legitimate children, the SOL is 18 years—[ Legal presumption, usually no paternity proceeding is needed] o As with all forms of scrutiny by the court the statutory classification must be substantially related to an important governmental objective.
o Rationale: DNA tests eliminate 99% of fraudulent claims; the state recently adopted the federally mandated 18 year SOL.

Stanley v. Illinois ( Limitations on Unmarried Parents Rights)

Court strikes down an Illinois statute with a presumption that unwed fathers are unfit parents without a fitness hearing on equal protection and due process grounds under the 14th amendment.
Right of a parent to raise the children he has sired and raised is regarded as an essential/ fundamental constitutional right. This right cannot be taken away absent a powerful countervailing interest. STRICT SCRUTINY
Presumption is unconstitutional because it discriminates against unwed fathers and harms the child’s best interest.
Preserving state resources doesn’t trump constitutional protections and the best interest of the child.