One of our constitutions (federal) is short, the other (state) is long — like really long — but both underscore liberty's primacy right away. The federal Constitution, in the first sentence of the Preamble, declares its mission to "secure the Blessings of Liberty." The Texas Constitution likewise wastes no time, stating up front in the Bill of Rights its paramount aim to recognize and establish "the general, great and essential principles of liberty and free government." The point is unsubtle and undeniable:
Liberty is not provided by government; liberty preexists government. It is not a gift from the sovereign; it is our natural birthright. Fixed. Innate. Unalienable.
--Justice Don Willet, Texas Supreme Court, 2015
ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINIONS
October 2004, Senator Jeff Wentworth, Chair, Senate Jurisprudence Committee, asked Attorney General Greg Abbott about the constitutionality of the Texas grandparent access statute, section 153.433. The statute can be unconstitutional as applied if grandparents do not overcome the constitutional presumption that fit parents act in the best interests of their children. The AG says section 153.433 is "constitutional in application only if construed in light of the limitations imposed by Troxel." We believe this same constitutional analysis and burden applies in SAPCR between fit parents.
May 2000, Senator Jane Nelson, Chair, Committee on Health Services, asked Attorney General John Cornyn about the constitutional standard to be applied when a state agency attempts to interfere with a parent's right to direct the upbringing of his or her children. The AG concluded that the standard is "compelling state interest." However, it is important to note that judges in Texas are not considered parts of any state agency.
FAMILY LAW BILLS
The Policy Center tracks certain bills related to family law issues and provides information on those bills.
SB 816 is a proposed change to section 153 of the family code.