This is a Fourth Amendment case: Camreta and Alford v. Greene. Oregon investigators are appealing a lower court ruling that they violated a 9-year-old girl's constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure when they interviewed her for two hours at school without a warrant, a court order, parental consent or exigent circumstances.
This case could have a significant impact nationwide. Unfortunately, some government agencies are more solicitous in guaranteeing constitutional due process to vicious criminals than to parents.
The other CPS case now before the Supreme Court -- Los Angeles County v. Humphries -- has already been briefed and argued. This case involves the constitutionality of the child abuse index, or list, maintained by Child Protective Services in California.
More than 800,000 people are now listed on California's child abuse index. These listings are very hurtful to individuals, since employers consult the list before hiring employees to work with children.
CPS puts people on this list from agency reports that are based on anonymous tips and suspicion, not proof. It's mighty easy for a malicious wife or ex-wife to allege child abuse as part of her game plan to get child custody or increased child support.
The issue in this case is the fact that there are no procedures, no standards and no criteria for a wrongly accused person to get his name off the child abusers index. The Supreme Court is reviewing the Ninth Circuit ruling that Craig Humphries (whom a court pronounced innocent of all charges) had a "nightmarish encounter" with the California system, and "There is no effective procedure for Humphries to challenge this listing."
In 2006, Congress toyed with a plan to create a national child abuse registry. The plan was abandoned because of the unreliability of state lists and lack of due process (blog.eagleforum.org).
The child abuse registry should not be confused with the sex offender registry, which lists only those who have been convicted of sex crimes. The child abuse registry puts men on the list who have never been proven guilty of anything or even charged with a crime -- a punishment that is entirely contrary to our legal assumption of being innocent until proven guilty.
Humphries has been trying to clear his name for nine years. Congress should defund these abusive registries, and we hope the Supreme Court declares them unconstitutional.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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