Our Fourth Amendment is in Danger – What is the Truth?
February 9, 2007 – By Linda Martin
If you’re a parent living in the USA with young children, and if you don’t know what the Fourth Amendment is, please pay attention. This information could save your family.
The Fourth Amendment states that government workers can’t enter your home without your permission, unless they have a warrant based on ‘probable cause’.
Here’s the exact text of the Fourth Amendment:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
It has been established that this protection applies to Child Protective Services (CPS) caseworkers just as it applies to law enforcement officers. Despite the clear text of this section of the Bill of Rights, many caseworkers still think they can force parents to allow them into their homes.
Near the end of January 2007, a child protection caseworker showed up at the door of a Michigan homeschooling family. She would not read a paper the mother handed her regarding her rights, and yelled at the mother, insisting that she should be allowed to enter immediately to do a “strip search” of one of the children. She was basing her intrusion on an anonymous tip stating that the children listened only to Christian music, that they “ate their cheerios dry”, that their only socialization was through the church, and that the mother pinched and hit her children in church to keep them quiet.
Since when is listening to Christian music or socializing in church a form of child neglect? And eating dry cheerios – is that a crime? If the caseworker had kept her complaint to ‘pinching and hitting’ she wouldn’t have lost her credibility and we wouldn’t be laughing at her now. However remember, this was all based on an anonymous tip, and who knows what the motivation of that phone call might have been?
The mother contacted an attorney, Chris Klicka, of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). He sent the caseworker a letter regarding her rude and unprofessional behavior toward the family. He noted that she obviously hadn’t received the social worker training in the Fourth Amendment. A year and a half earlier HSLDA helped pass a law in that state which requires all caseworkers to be trained in their “duty to protect both statutory and constitutional rights of those being investigated.” Klicka also informed the caseworker that she would be held liable for violating the family’s civil rights.
Meanwhile the mother responded to the investigation by getting a statement from her children’s doctor indicating that her children were not abused. She also got letters from people who stated that they were good parents to their children.
The caseworker continued to try to interview the children and strip search them, and threatened to get a court order to do so. Klicka informed her that she had no ‘probable cause’ for a warrant because anonymous tips don’t qualify as credible evidence. The caseworker insisted she would get a court order, but instead, a few days later she contacted the family saying she would drop the case.
I guess she finally figured out what the Fourth Amendment was, and what ‘probable cause’ meant.
HSLDA, the Home School Legal Defense Association, serves mostly homeschooling Christians, but will provide legal defense for any homeschooler regardless of religion, so long as the dues are paid. This defense extends to homeschooling families facing accusations and investigations from Child Protective Services. HSLDA lawyers have been instrumental in going to court for homeschooling families with CPS problems, and have managed to establish very positive case law protecting anyone facing false accusations of abuse. For that, HSLDA lawyers should be praised by all families, forever.