The Due Process Clause of the U.S. Const. amend. XIV protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.
Petitioner grandparents petitioned a Washington Superior Court for the right to visit their grandchildren and visitation rights were granted. Respondent mother opposed the petition and the state supreme court reversed holding that Wash. Rev. Code § 26.10.160(3) unconstitutionally interfered with the fundamental rights of parents to rear their children. Petitioners appealed the judgment of the state supreme court, and on certiorari, judgment was affirmed.
Did the visitation order unconstitutionally interfere with the fundamental right of respondent to rear her children?
The court found that the visitation order was an unconstitutional infringement on respondent's fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of her two daughters. The state superior court failed to accord the determination of respondent, a fit custodial parent, any material weight; announced a presumption in favor of grandparent visitation; and failed to accord significant weight to respondent's already having offered meaningful visitation to petitioners. The court concluded that the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution did not permit a state to infringe on the fundamental right of parents to make child rearing decisions. Accordingly, the court held that Wash. Rev. Code § 26.10.160(3), as applied in this case, was unconstitutional.