Yesterday, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted 8-6 to report SB 908, patroned by Senator Bryce Reeves (R-17, Fredericksburg), to the full Senate. The bill enshrines parental rights in Virginia law as a "fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education and care" of their children. That's the good news. The bad news is that one of the "yes" votes indicated that he is leaving the door open to changing his vote. Final passage by the full Senate is not guaranteed by any means.
Please contact your senator by clicking here now and urge him or her to vote for SB 908 and against any attempt to re-refer it back to committee or any other parliamentary gimmick that will effectively kill it.
This legislation is significant because courts give special deference to "fundamental rights." While our state courts have so far ruled that parental rights are fundamental, the courts could change their mind at any time if the General Assembly remains silent. SB 908 directly addresses this issue.
The threat is real: 24 other states have reduced parental rights to "ordinary."
Some are arguing that the bill could have the effect of interfering with the state’s ability to protect children from abuse or neglect. However, a fundamental right is not an absolute right. Courts have said:
This fundamental right [to bring up children as one sees fit] is not unbounded. Indeed the state can legitimately impose restraints and requirements that touch the lives of children in direct conflict with the wishes of their parents.
In Virginia, it's time to reassert foundational principles such as the fundamental right of parents to raise their children. Contact your senator and urge him or her to vote YES on SB 908 on the Senate floor and NO to any attempt to re-refer it to committee!