The
Fatherhood Coalition

Stephen Baskerville states the problem

Letter to Clint Bolick,  Vice President and Director of Litigation Institute for Justice


Stephen Baskerville
Howard University
Department of Political Science

Douglass Hall
Washington, DC 20059

September 13, 2000

Clint Bolick
Vice President and Director of Litigation
Institute for Justice
1717 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Suite 200
Washington, DC 20006

 

Dear Mr. Bolick,

Thank you for your thoughtful letter. I believe your assessment of the technical difficulties is accurate. Your suggestion of


The arrogance of family courts is now spreading well beyond fathers. Whether they are summoning parents who question the institutional drugging of their children or removing poor children from their parents on spurious charges of abuse, American family courts are the most destructive as well as the most powerful branch of the judiciary.

creating "legal defense fund" for fathers and children is helpful, and I will share it with my colleagues.

At the same time, you might be forgiven if you cannot yet appreciate the full import of what is taking place. Those of us who have witnessed first hand the depredations of the divorce industry have trouble comprehending the horror we have seen.

Parents innocent of even the suspicion of legal wrongdoing are summoned to court, stripped of their children and everything they have, and incarcerated without trial. They are interrogated behind closed doors about how they raise their children and otherwise conduct their private lives, and their children are used as informers against them. They are deprived of contact with their children, who are taught to hate their own parents, sometimes by government officials. They are driven to suicide by government agents and even beaten to death in police custody. Beyond this, they are publicly vilified as criminals in the mass media by the highest officials in our land, including the President of the United States, with no opportunity to reply in their own defense.


It is unlikely these parents will be able to defend their rights in the very courts that have violated them: men who are reduced to penury, who do no know where their next meal will come from, who are forced to live with friends or parents, or in their cars, or on the streets, men whose political activities can cost them their jobs or their children or their freedom, men who live in constant fear of arrest and the "knock on the door," once familiar to citizens of Eastern Europe. These are not men who are in a position to form political organizations. Until these men have some minimal protection from the Bill of Rights, they will stand isolated and exposed to the tyranny of government bullies whose power over them and their children is "almost unlimited."

No precedent exists for this kind of bureaucratic and political terror against millions of American citizens. The only parallels are the ideological-bureaucratic dictatorships of the last century.

I can well understand therefore that this issue does not fit your "mode of litigation." In a sense, that is precisely why it is happening. Family courts are unlike any other courts in America: "the most powerful branch of the judiciary," in the words of Robert Page of the New Jersey Family Court, who writes that "The power of family court judges is almost unlimited." As courts of "equity" (rather than "law") they claim immunity from the Constitution and from scrutiny by federal courts. Their proceedings are secret and unrecorded. Their orders are enforced not by regular police but by bureaucratic police, police who are not trained like regular police and who do not wear uniforms, police whose sole responsibility is to conduct surveillance over families and private lives. As such these police are akin to secret police. By the very nature of their jurisdiction these courts and police are the most intrusive and invasive arm of government, and yet they are accountable to virtually no one. Such an institution is intolerable in a free society.

Yes, family cases are complicated. But this too, in a sense, is why it is permitted to happen – because government officials have seized control of the private family lives of its citizens, which they then presume to "micro-manage," lives that should be complicated and not subject to regulation by the state machinery. This is precisely why this Gordian Knot can never be unraveled according to the terms of "family law, " why it must be cut as an issue of civil and constitutional rights. For throughout the complexity of private lives one question must ring through: Do legally actionable grounds exist for intervention by the state?

I can show you numerous "factually clean" cases where the answer to this question is plainly "No": where a legally unimpeachable parent has been deprived of his children and turned into an outlaw by a divorce decree for which he has given neither grounds nor agreement, by a restraining order for which not a shred of evidence of wrongdoing was presented, and by a child support order that is obviously impossible to pay.


"The ideal for which the family stands is liberty," wrote G.K. Chesterton. "It is the only check on the state that is bound to renew itself as eternally as the state." Never before have the family and the state stood in such direct confrontation with one another. Both Nazi and Communist regimes took children from their parents. But no regime prior to the rise of the divorce industry has made the seizure of children its central objective or the basis for its power.

It is unlikely these parents will be able to defend their rights in the very courts that have violated them: men who are reduced to penury, who do no know where their next meal will come from, who are forced to live with friends or parents, or in their cars, or on the streets, men whose political activities can cost them their jobs or their children or their freedom, men who live in constant fear of arrest and the "knock on the door," once familiar to citizens of Eastern Europe. These are not men who are in a position to form political organizations. Until these men have some minimal protection from the Bill of Rights, they will stand isolated and exposed to the tyranny of government bullies whose power over them and their children is "almost unlimited."

"The ideal for which the family stands is liberty," wrote G.K. Chesterton. "It is the only check on the state that is bound to renew itself as eternally as the state." Never before have the family and the state stood in such direct confrontation with one another. Both Nazi and Communist regimes took children from their parents. But no regime prior to the rise of the divorce industry has made the seizure of children its central objective or the basis for its power.

The arrogance of family courts is now spreading well beyond fathers. Whether they are summoning parents who question the institutional drugging of their children or removing poor children from their parents on spurious charges of abuse, American family courts are the most destructive as well as the most powerful branch of the judiciary.

I understand the importance of the other issues in which you are involved and that the Institute for Justice must operate according to established procedures and routines. But as Dr. King once said about civil rights, we can now say of the forced destruction of families by the state: It is the most urgent moral, social, and political issue of our time. The divorce industry is not only the most destructive but also the most dangerous institution in America today. I do not expect you to address the terrible destruction it is wreaking on innocent children and our social order, but it is now trampling down the civil liberties of millions of citizens. As Frederick Douglass observed of the slave power, it is "poisoning, corrupting, and perverting the institutions of the country," with every branch and every level of government now affected.

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your associates personally to present some of the cases that exemplify this massive destruction of constitutional rights.

Yours sincerely,

 

Stephen Baskerville

cc: Scott Bullock


Return to CPF home page