Fall 1999

A Message from the Dean

A Discourse on Constitutional Law
The Journey of a Journal
On History and Heritage: John K. Castle
In Defense and Celebration of the First Amendment

Public Service at the Forefront
Lindback Adwardee: Bruce H. Mann
Snippets of History (1915 - 1951)
Celebrations: Alumni Reunion and Commencment

Faculty Notes
Alumni Briefs
In Memoriam

Penn Law

Unlike many modern constitutions, such as the South African, which specifically address the rights of children, says Woodhouse, our Constitution provides no specific rights for children. Their best hope lies in judges who will interpret the Constitution as a living document. Children's rights are often ignored, especially in civil cases, where they are seldom represented by counsel. In the highly publicized "Baby Jessica" and "Baby Richard" cases, for example, state laws "did not provide the child with the right to a hearing on his or her best interest, to present evidence of a severe detriment in being removed from long-term placement. I argue that those laws are unconstitutional in that they deprive the party who's most centrally interested in the outcome of any opportunity to be heard." The United States is also the only country that has failed to ratio the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Woodhouse cites "very active opposition" from the religious right and such groups as the Family Research Council, who view the Convention as an attack on the family. In her remarks published in the proceedings of the 1997 Hague Conference on Contemporary International Law Issues (American Society of International Law, 1997), she states: "Cultural conservatives see the establishment of universal basic welfare and education rights for children as leading inexorably to a totalitarian society which would destroy individual initiative and intellectual liberty." This, she adds, despite the fact that the Convention was specifically devised to protect children from violation of their rights by governments.

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