Child Custody

Beyond Law Enforcement: Camreta v. Greene, Child Protection Investigations, and the Need To Reform the Fourth Amendment Special Needs Doctrine

The Fourth Amendment “special needs” doctrine distinguishes between searches and seizures that serve the “normal need for law enforcement” and those that serve some other special need, excusing non-law-enforcement searches and seizures from the warrant and probable cause requirements.  The United States Supreme Court has never justified drawing this bright line exclusively around law enforcement searches and seizures but not around those that threaten important noncriminal constitutional rights. Child protection investigations illustrate the problem:  millions of times each year, state child protection authorities search families’ homes and seize children for interviews about alleged maltreatment.  Only a minority of these investigations involve suspected crimes, so most fall on the special needs side of the line.  This result undervalues the consequences of child protection investigations on children (a severe infringement of their right to family integrity) and on parents (the loss of their children and the stigma of a child abuse or neglect charge).

This Article proposes a new approach to the special needs doctrine:  the doctrine should distinguish between searches and seizures that implicate fundamental constitutional rights and those that do not.  It breaks new ground in identifying a theoretical value to such a bright line:  it gives governments less incentive to interfere with liberty by seeking alternative means to achieve their goals.  To realize this value most effectively, the line must be drawn to value all fundamental constitutional rights, not only those connected to the criminal justice system.  In child protection, it would push states to choose less-liberty-infringing models of providing assistance to vulnerable families, which the empirical record shows would serve children and the child protection system’s goals more effectively.

Darling Divas or Damaged Daughters? The Dark Side of Child Beauty Pageants and an Administrative Law Solution

Ever since TLC first aired the popular television show Toddler and Tiaras in 2009, the network has brought international scrutiny to this country’s child pageant industry. Viewers of all ages have been captivated to watch as a variety of colorful pageant parents (mostly moms) try to transform their young children (mostly girls) into pageant princesses, teaching them to dance on stage in tiny, sequined outfits, pumping them full of sugar and energy drinks, and adorning them with spray tans, fake hairpieces, and plenty of makeup. Scathing media reports suggest that pageant parents have already been tried and convicted of bad parenting in the court of popular opinion. This Comment addresses the question of whether they can and should be tried in a court of law as well. It investigates the physical and emotional harm that overzealous pageant parenting can inflict on young children, as well as the long-term effect that these practices can have on greater societal ills such as gender stereotyping and domestic violence. This Comment ultimately argues that existing legal frameworks provide an inadequate remedy for this harm and proposes an administrative law solution that can be implemented at federal, state, and local levels.

Interpreting Ne Exeat Rights as Rights of Custody: The United States Supreme Court's Chance to Advance the Purposes of the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction

In Abbott v. Abbott, the United States Supreme Court will construe the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Specifically, the Court will determine whether a ne exeat clause, which precludes a parent from taking his or her child out of the country without the other parent's consent, is a “right of custody” for purposes of the Convention. The U.S. circuit courts are divided on the issue, and the approach of the majority of circuits is in opposition to the approach taken by the majority of foreign courts that have addressed the issue. This Comment argues that the Court appropriately granted certiorari in Abbott and that the Court should decide that the rights conferred by a ne exeat clause do constitute rights of custody under the Convention.