Compelling State Interest


The following Supreme Court decisions were cited in a published opinion by Chief judge Norman K. Moon of Court of Appeals of Virginia June 3, 1997 in the case Williams and Williams v. Williams and Williams 24 Va. App. 778; 485 S.E. 2d 651 (June 3, 1997):

Even when blood relationships are strained, parents retain vital interest in preventing irretrievable destruction of their family life; if anything, persons faced with forced dissolution of their parental rights have more critical need for procedural protections than do those resisting state intervention into ongoing family affairs.

The Supreme Court noted its “historical recognition that freedom of personal choice in matters of family life is a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.” Santosky v. Kramer, 102 S.Ct. 1388; 455 U.S. 745, (1982).

In applying the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment, the United States Supreme Court has held that

“[w]here certain fundamental rights are involved… regulation limiting these rights may be justified only by a ‘compelling state interest’ …and ..legislative enactments must be narrowly drawn to express only the legitimate state interests at stake.

State interference with a fundamental right must by justified by a “compelling state interest.” Roe v. Wade. 410 U.S. 113, 155 ; 93 S.Ct. 705; 35 L Ed 2d 147, (1973)

State’s power to legislate, adjudicate and administer all aspects of family law, including determinations of custodial and visitation rights, is subject to scrutiny by federal judiciary within reach of due process and/or equal protection clause of 14th Amendment… fourteenth Amendment applied to states through specific rights contained in the first eight amendments of the Constitution which declares fundamental personal rights… Fourteenth Amendment encompasses and applied to states those pre-existing fundamental rights recognized by the Ninth Amendment.

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