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House passes parental rights memorial 49-20, after much debate

After much debate, the House has voted 49-20 to pass a non-binding memorial from Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, urging a new "parental rights amendment" to the U.S. Constitution. Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, was among the opponents. "It is a sovereignty issue, it's a 10th Amendment issue, and these decisions should be left up to the state and we the people," she told the House. "The federal government does not observe the Constitution nine times out of 10 as it is, so why give them something else to ignore?"

Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star, a supporter of the measure, said, "I have a real concern when we have treaties directing what we can and cannot do with our children." He also said he worries about statements by Justice Antonin Scalia regarding parental rights. "The courts are stepping out now in places that we don't want to go, and we oughta get 'em back," Moyle said. He said "if this thing gets out of control," the state could choose not to ratify such an amendment. "But I still think we need to send a message," he said.

Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, spoke against the measure as a pediatrician, and told of a 2-year-old who died of serious nutritional deficiency after his parents chose to feed him nothing but cow's milk. "Let's not put the rights of the lives of children in an inferior position," Rusche said. "I think there is a real opportunity to do harm with this."

Nonini, responding to the debate, said the major home-school group that has come out against an amendment "is way out of mainstream with home educators," and said numerous "pro-family" groups support it, and think the measure will "protect Idaho's families." Nonini said, "This amendment will protect parents from interference both from the federal government and from state governments." The measure now moves to the Senate.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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