winona rosa

Sunday, July 17, 2011

When Criminals Have Rights Where the Poor Have None

When convicted criminals are free to be with their children but the poor are not, there is something very wrong in the world. Yet that is the news from Europe this week, thanks to the “human rights” treaties being pushed by the United Nations – treaties like the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which we are fighting to keep from America’s shores.

According to several news sources in the United Kingdom, convicted burglar Wayne Bishop last week won an appeal of his 8-month sentence so that he could be with his five children. Citing the “right to family life” provided for in Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which is the U.K.’s legislation to fulfill the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), Bishop’s attorney argued – and the courts agreed – that he should be released and returned to his children.

Given Bishop’s role as a single parent and his status as a first-time offender, his suspended sentence is not unreasonable, and we rejoice in the reunification of his family. But the ruling sets a dangerous precedent when added to a much less reasonable decision that followed.

Also last week, also stemming from Article 8 based on the ECHR, another prisoner has been allowed to father a baby with his wife through artificial insemination. Even though he is incarcerated where intimate relations are not allowed, the government is paying the tab for the work-around to impregnate his wife based on the prisoner’s “right to family life.”

As more than one have commented in the British press, what will happen once the baby is born and his “right to family life” is cited as cause to release him from prison altogether as in Bishop’s case?

Meanwhile an article out of Bulgaria highlighting the admirable work of a child care charity there mentions the presence of “so-called ‘social orphans’ whose families have lost parental rights, most often due to poverty” (emphasis added). Like the UK, Bulgaria is a party to both the ECHR and the CRC. As a result, parents can lose their rights “due to poverty,” since the legal standard of “the best interest of the child” has replaced any standard requiring proof of harm or wrong-doing on the part of the parents.

While many contend that their inability to defend themselves against an over-zealous child protection system leads some parents to lose their rights due to poverty here in America, it is universally clear that such a practice is a violation of our Constitution.

Such would not be the case were the CRC to be ratified here, however. According to the Supreme Court’s interpretation of Article VI of the Constitution (see Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1 (1957)), any ratified treaty on any area not expressly reserved in the Constitution becomes “the supreme law of the land,” binding judges in every state to uphold its guidelines.

If the CRC were ratified, perhaps we too could join “the civilized nations of Europe,” where criminals can have children as a means to get out of jail, while the innocent have their children taken away for the crime of being poor.

Or, we could continue to uphold liberty and justice by preserving parental rights in the text of the Constitution and by preventing the CRC from ever making its way into our laws.

Action Items

Our major summer campaign kick-off is imminent. Get a head start by telling friends and neighbors about the Amendment and getting them signed up at And help fund this massive push by giving as you are able at Together we will keep America safe for families.


Michael Ramey
Director of Communications & Research

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