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The Constitutional Parent - Shulman, Jeffrey - Yale University Press
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The Constitutional Parent

Rights, Responsibilities, and the Enfranchisement of the Child

  • Jeffrey Shulman
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In this bold and timely work, law professor Jeffrey Shulman argues that the United States Constitution does not protect a fundamental right to parent. Based on a rigorous reconsideration of the historical record, Shulman challenges the notion, held by academics and the general public alike, that parental rights have a long-standing legal pedigree. What is deeply rooted in our legal tradition and social conscience, Shulman demonstrates, is the idea that the state entrusts parents with custody of the child, and it does so only as long as parents meet their fiduciary duty to serve the developmental needs of the child.

 

Shulman’s illuminating account of American legal history is of more than academic interest.  If once again we treat parenting as a delegated responsibility—as a sacred trust, not a sacred right—we will not all reach the same legal prescriptions, but we might be more willing to consider how time-honored principles of family law can effectively accommodate the evolving interests of parent, child, and state.

Jeffrey Shulman teaches constitutional family law and legal writing at Georgetown Law. He lives in Frederick, MD.

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