Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Alito and parental rights

From Bench Memos we learn of this decision, joined by Samuel Alito (though he didn’t write it), in a suit brought by parents regarding a survey, including questions about sex, administered to middle school and high school students. I wrote about a previous and much more inflammatory decision here.

I haven’t had time to do more than skim the decision, but my first impression is that the reasoning is much more nuanced than that of the 9th Circuit decision and that it embodies a sober and limited understanding of the place of constitutional adjudication in our political order. The school authorities here seem to have had good intentions, but to have made a hash of administering the survey (unlike in the Palmdale case, where they clearly didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag about the substance of the questionnaire).

At first glance, the decision vindicates my general line of argument that judicially-enforceable parental rights don’t extend as far as some of us parents might like and that the appropriate response is heavy parental involvement (in schools, school board politics, and in "privatization").

Judge Alito and his brethren look good by comparison with their colleagues on the 9th Circuit.

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