The United States Supreme Court, in ruling unconstitutional a grandparent visitation statute enacted in Washington, stated that “it cannot now be doubted that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.”… The Court concluded that “the Due Process Clause does not permit a State to infringe on the fundamental right of parents to make child rearing decisions simply because a state judge believes a ‘better’ decision could be made.”…
2. THE STATE AS PARENS PATRIAE
The father, relying on the Fourth District decision, recognizes parents’ broad authority over their children but asserts that the State has greater authority as “parens patriae” to rule the arbitration agreement in this case unenforceable because it is contrary to public policy.
“Parens patriae,” which is Latin for “parent of his or her country,” describes “the state in its capacity as provider of protection to those unable to care for themselves.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1144 (8th ed. 2004). The doctrine derives from the common-law concept of royal prerogative, recognized by American courts in the form of legislative prerogative….
E. THIS CASE
68 Law Masters Series
The Fourth District decision thus implicitly rests on two conclusions: the opportunity to present a claim in court is so basic a right that its waiver is tantamount to a forfeiture of the claim, and the benefits to children of commercial travel opportunities do not justify enforcement of a parent’s decision to agree to arbitrate a child’s claims arising out of the travel contract. We disagree.