Courtney Love in Outdoor Recreation Law

Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57; 120 S. Ct. 2054; 147 L. Ed. 2d 49; 2000 U.S. LEXIS 3767; 68 U.S.L.W. 4458; 2000 Cal. Daily Op. Service 4345; 2000 Daily Journal DAR 5831; 2000 Colo. J. C.A.R. 3199; 13 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 365 

In 2000, the US Supreme Court decided Troxel v. Granville. This case held that the state could not interfere with a parent’s decisions on how they raised their children. The results for you readers are there is not Federal or Constitutional prohibition against a parent signing away a minor’s right to sue. The decision does allow those contracts under federal law. However, each state still can decide if they are going to permit a parent to sign away a minor’s right to sue under state law.

The plaintiff is the mother of two children who objected to the Washington court’s decision on the amount of visitations awarded to the paternal grandparents of her children. The father of the children never married the mother and eventually committed suicide. The grandparents sued for visitation using a Washington Statute that allowed for visitation to anyone who had an interest in the children and won. The mother appealed saying the visitation granted by the court was excessive. The mother never argued the right to visitation just the amount of time.

The case went all the way to the Washington Supreme Court, and then it was appealed to the US Supreme Court. The issue the US Supreme Court reviewed was whether the Washington Statute that allowed the visitation violated the mother’s freedom to raise her kids under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution. The 14th Amendment has a due process clause that protects the fundamental right of a parent to raise his or her children anyway the parent sees fit. The state can only intervene if the parent’s decisions are injuring the children in a way that creates long term and substantial injury.

The US Supreme Court is a federal. Therefore, it has limited jurisdiction. It can only hear cases that affect the federal government, concern federal laws, or in this case interpret the US Constitution. Here the fourteenth amendment controls’ state law.

Does this allow a state to have a parent sign away a minor’s right to sue? Yes. Does this require a state to use releases to sign away a minor’s right to sue? No. The US Constitution rarely requires anything of states. However, the Constitution places innumerable restrictions on state’s rights, and this is one of them. State Constitutions’ or statutes may further restrict the right of a parent to sign away a minor’s right to sue. As long as the state’s actions do not interfere with the parents’ decisions on how to raise their children, as controlled by the Fourteenth Amendment, the Federal Courts will not be involved.

Courtney Love is the plaintiff in the case and Kurt Cobain is the deceased father of the children.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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