From the May 2001 Idaho Observer:

State Supreme Court doubles as state supreme family planner

by Bill Denman

During the 2001 session, the Idaho State Legislature created a new and dangerous bureaucracy which will have the power to meddle in family affairs. Senate Bill 1172 authorizes the creation of a “Coordinated Family Services” bureaucracy to coordinate “family dispute issues.” The Supreme Court will have the “responsibility for administering, allocating and apportioning all funding resources for children and family court services ...”

Part of the “services” provided by the “family court services coordinator” will be to assist “families in need” to find appropriate resources (taxpayers money) for the family. Another activity of the coordinator will be to conduct workshops which will “educate” the parties on the adverse impact of “high conflict family disputes upon children, and emphasize the importance of parenting plans and mediation techniques ....”

The court assistance officer will provide “referrals to public and community agencies and resources (taxpayers money) that provide legal and other services to parents and children”(emphasis added). The “other services” phrase could be very comprehensive and expensive for taxpayers. Thus the legislature has left the door wide open for the officer to meddle in practically any family affairs. Furthermore, the specific details of implementing these “coordinated family services” is left to a committee appointed by the Supreme Court which will recommend adoption of proposed policies and procedures by the Court.

It is left to each judicial district to submit an appropriate plan for family court services. All this meddling in family affairs will be in addition to the authority granted to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare for “Children's Mental Health Services” by HB320 in 1997.

SB1172 does not specify any limits on government involvement with family issues. There is nothing in the bill which establishes the conditions which provide the basis for government intervention. Do family members have to file a request for “family services” or can the bureaucracy initiate their intervention regardless of family desires? There is nothing in the legislation that addresses this issue.

This legislation can easily be used as the basis for government interference with parent/child relationships. This will undermine parental authority and encourage far more family problems than it will solve. Of course this will also provide ample justification for expansion of the bureaucracy; a tendency of all bureaucracies which does not need encouragement. This “family services” program will encourage children to ask the “court assistance officer” to “mediate” disputes when they disagree with parents' decisions.

This is not a new phenomena; it leads to the situation which existed during the French Revolution. In 1802 a French gardener made the following comment: “During the Revolution we dared not scold our children for their faults. Those who called themselves patriots regarded it as against the fundamental principles of liberty to correct children. This made these so unruly that very often, when a parent presumed to scold his child, the latter would tell him to mind his own business, adding, 'We are free and equal; the Republic is our only father, and no other.' ... It will take a good many years to bring them back to minding.”

All Idaho Legislators from Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4 voted for this bill except Pischner who was absent.

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