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Cross CurrentsFamily Law and Policy in the US and England$
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Sanford N. Katz, John Eekelaar, and Mavis MacLean

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198268208

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198268208.001.0001

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The Status of Children: A Story of Emerging Rights

The Status of Children: A Story of Emerging Rights

(p.422) (p.423) 19 The Status of Children: A Story of Emerging Rights
Cross Currents

Barbara Bennett Woodhouse

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the gradual extension of rights to children and young people. One source of emerging rights is the United States Constitution, with its Bill of Rights and especially its Fourteenth Amendment. It influences children’s status indirectly, by placing limits on the powers of state legislatures and courts to invade the privacy and autonomy of the family. But the Constitution does not tell the whole story. As central as the Constitution may be to American law, no one source of law provides a comprehensive picture of children’s status in the United States. In fact, laws on custody, emancipation, and family life are the province of state courts and legislatures, rather than the federal Congress or federal courts. One standardising influence on the development of children’s law is federal spending to ‘promote the general welfare’. Federal programs on child welfare, child support, health care, and adoption often condition eligibility for funds on changes in state laws and policies. Another standardising force is the work of organisations that create and disseminate model laws.

Keywords:   United States Constitution, children, Fouteenth Amendment, rights, custody, state courts, family, federal courts, child welfare, health care

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