House takes on court stance

first_imgWASHINGTON – Lawmakers in the U.S. House overwhelmingly denounced the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday for tossing out a lawsuit by Palmdale parents furious that their children were surveyed at school about sex. In a 320-91 vote, legislators passed a resolution demanding the court rehear the case and charging that it “declared parenting unconstitutional” when it rejected last month the Mesquite Elementary School parents’ claim that they have the exclusive right to tell their children about sex. The measure carries no enforcement or legal weight but is the latest in a string of congressional attacks on the 9th Circuit Court as the House nears a vote on a budget bill that may include a provision that would split the court. The Senate is expected to oppose that move. “The 9th Circuit Court decided to overstep the boundaries of what a court should be doing,” said Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., who sponsored the Palmdale resolution. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “When it comes to what schools are asking very young children about sex, the 9th Circuit decided parents not only don’t have the right to say no, they don’t even have the right to know what is being asked,” Murphy said. “The court should rehear the case and reverse the decision.” The case stems from a 2002 survey administered to 13 third- and fifth-graders by a mental health therapist working on her doctoral degree. When parents complained, Palmdale School District officials halted the survey after they learned what questions it contained. Parents signed permission forms for the survey, but the forms made no mention of sexually oriented questions. Among its questions, the survey asked youngsters to rate how often they “can’t stop thinking about sex” and “not trusting people because they might want sex.” A group of parents sued, alleging their right to control their children’s upbringing had been violated. But a three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled that “there is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to children.” Rep. Howard “Buck,” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, who co-sponsored the resolution, said in a statement the case is “another example of the courts acting out of the mainstream.” “It should primarily be the parents’ right and responsibility to discuss matters of this nature with their children,” he said, noting that he has six children and 27 grandchildren. “At the very least, parents should be able to know what their children are being exposed to at school, and be given the opportunity to opt out of any discussions or surveys relating to sexual education,” he said. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., noted that the 9th Circuit Court sided with the school board, and said Republicans who bemoan “judicial activism” are intellectually dishonest. “What the majority says is, when we don’t like a decision we’ll criticize the courts. That’s fine. But why disguise what you’re saying?” Frank said. “Stop pretending you’re upset about activism when what you’re really upset about is judicial passivity.” Rep. Howard Berman, D-Van Nuys, also defended the 9th Circuit and said there are other avenues for fighting a school district. “We can’t solve all of society’s problems by virtue of constitutional law,” he said. The resolution drew support from 94 Democrats, including Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino, and Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena. The entire Southern California Republican delegation supported it, while all other Democrats in the region opposed it. Lisa Friedman, (202) 662-8731 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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