September 2012 Church & State | AU Bulletin

A panel of the U.S. House of Representatives recently discussed a proposed constitutional amendment backed by Religious Right groups that purports to deal with “parental rights.”

The so-called “Parental Rights Amendment” (PRA), sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), was the focus of a hearing by a subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. H.J. Res. 110 has only three short points, one of which states that “the upbringing, education, and care of their children is a fundamental right” that all parents have.

Americans United and other critics say the PRA, which first surfaced in the mid-1990s, could open the door to school voucher plans that subsidize religion. If interpreted broadly, the amendment could require states to pay for private school tuition to help parents exercise their “constitutional right” to oversee the education of their children.

The amendment could also create problems in the public schools. Parents could use it to demand modifications to the curriculum or to insist that their children be excused from instruction they don’t like, such as evolution.