To all Texans: A bill eroding parental rights is being heard in a Texas Senate committee this upcoming Tuesday, April 23. SB 1148 subjects fit parents with intact homes to suit by grandparents.1
This post was updated on April 30, 2013 (see below).
Whether to support this legislation or not comes down to a simple question: When children are being raised by fit parents in an intact home, who should decide how much time those children spend with their grandparents–the parents or the government?
“Do some grandparents really think that suing their children will give them a better relationship with their grandchildren?” asked Heritage Defense Attorney Bradley Pierce. “This bill does not promote family relationships. The only people who seem to benefit from it are the lawyers who would represent the grandparents and parents on either side of the nasty disputes this legislation would create.”
The Texas Senate Committee of Jurisprudence is scheduled to consider SB 1148 this upcoming Tuesday, April 23, at 1:30 PM or after.
Please call the Senate Jurisprudence Committee members listed below and urge them to oppose this bill.
Chair: Sen. Royce West (also the bill’s author) – (512) 463-0123
Vice Chair: Sen. José R. Rodríguez – (512) 463-0129
Sen. Donna Campbell – (512) 463-0125
Sen. John Carona – (512) 463-0116
Sen. Sylvia Garcia – (512) 463-0106
Sen. Kelly Hancock – (512) 463-0109
Sen. Ken Paxton – (512) 463-0108
If you can make it, the hearing is scheduled to take place in the Betty King Committee Room (Texas State Capitol, Room 2E.20) at 1:30 PM or after on Tuesday, April 23.
You can read more about the legislation here.
April 30, 2013 Update
Heritage Defense testified before the Texas Senate Committee of Jurisprudence against this bill last Tuesday, April 23.
The committee left the bill pending and has not yet voted on it. It is not yet clear if and when the committee may vote on this bill. If you would like to share your opinion with the Senators on this committee, you can find their information here: Texas Senate Committee of Jurisprudence.
A summary of our comments is provided below (our comments were very brief because the committee imposed a two-minute time limit):
Honorable Chairman and distinguished committee members, my name is Bradley Pierce and I am here on behalf of Heritage Defense, a national legal advocacy organization based in Texas which is committed to defending parental rights. I am a Texas attorney and have been practicing law, including family law, in Texas for over five years. I am also a husband and father.
I speak today in opposition to Senate Bill 1148.
In the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Troxel v. Granville decided in the year 2000, the Supreme Court struck down a grandparent access statute as being too broad. The Court said that an important aspect to be considered in a grandparent access case is whether or not the parents are fit.
This legislation, if passed, would go into unconstitutional territory by subjecting fit parents to legal challenges even when both parents are fit and their home is intact.
Whether to support this legislation or not comes down to a simple question: When children are being raised by fit parents in an intact home, who should decide how much time those children spend with their grandparents: the parents or the government?
The U.S. Supreme Court has said that when parents are fit, this decision should be left to the parents, not the courts.
Let us not be confused. This legislation is not necessary to protect abused or neglected children from bad parents. We already have laws which seek to do that and this bill would not change those.
Instead, this legislation would actually harm children by placing them in the legal crossfire and subjecting them to traumatic interviews, psychological evaluations, and distressing courtroom testimony and other family drama.
This bill is detrimental even to grandparents who would sue under it because they will end up spending a whole lot of time and money trying to have a deeper bond with their grandchildren and then find out that lawsuits are not a great way to foster family relationships. Do some grandparents seriously think that suing their children will give them a better relationship with their grandchildren?
Quite frankly, the only people who would seem to benefit from this bill are the lawyers who would represent the grandparents and parents on either side of the nasty disputes this legislation would create.
Please vote against Senate Bill 1148. Thank you.
1 NOTE: Heritage Defense defends families against attacks on their parental rights by government social services agencies, not grandparents. Nevertheless, we chose to testify on this legislation because of its potentially significant adverse impact on our members and on parental rights in general.