In re E.H.G.

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Justia Opinion Summary

Grandparents, E.R.G and D.W.G., challenged the constitutionality of the state Grandparent Visitation Act. The Grandparents and E.H.G. and C.L.G (the Parents) had a very close relationship. The failure of a business shared by the father and the grandfather caused financial difficulties for both families, and eventually the relationships between all involved disintegrated. Desirous to maintain relationships with their grandchildren, the Grandparents petitioned the circuit court for visitation under the Act. The Parents argued in their response to the Grandparents' petition that the Act was unconstitutional on both its face and as it applied to them. Upon careful consideration of the briefs submitted by the parties and the applicable legal standards, the Supreme Court held the Act was unconstitutional. "Because the Act authorizes a court to award visitation to a grandparent whenever doing so is 'in the best interests of the minor child,'" the Act could potentially override a parent's decision to deny the grandparent visitation without regard for the fundamental right of a fit parent to direct the upbringing for of his or her child.

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Rel: 06/10/2011 Notice: T h i s o p i n i o n i s s u b j e c t t o formal r e v i s i o n b e f o r e p u b l i c a t i o n i n t h e advance s h e e t s o f Southern R e p o r t e r . R e a d e r s a r e r e q u e s t e d t o n o t i f y t h e R e p o r t e r o f D e c i s i o n s , A l a b a m a A p p e l l a t e C o u r t s , 300 D e x t e r A v e n u e , M o n t g o m e r y , A l a b a m a 3 6 1 0 4 - 3 7 4 1 ( ( 3 3 4 ) 2 2 9 ¬ 0 6 4 9 ) , o f a n y t y p o g r a p h i c a l o r o t h e r e r r o r s , i n o r d e r t h a t c o r r e c t i o n s may b e made b e f o r e t h e o p i n i o n i s p r i n t e d i n Southern R e p o r t e r . SUPREME COURT OF ALABAMA OCTOBER TERM, 2010-2011 1090883 Ex p a r t e E.R.G. and D.W.G. PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF C I V I L APPEALS (In r e : E.H.G. a n d C.L.G. v. E.R.G. and D.W.G.) ( J e f f e r s o n C i r c u i t C o u r t , CV-07-2224; C o u r t o f C i v i l A p p e a l s , 2071061) PARKER, Justice. 1090883 The petitioners, children, Appeals, E.R.G. a n d D.W.G., g r a n d p a r e n t s challenge which, the decision among o t h e r things, Code 1 9 7 5 , t h e A l a b a m a G r a n d p a r e n t against a constitutional parents of the minor 2071061, March affirm do so on a r a t i o n a l e that children. t h e judgment court. Because different of without direct Act regard Court E.H.G. 1 minor of C i v i l Civil A c t ("the A c t " ) , a n d C.L.G., t h e v. E.R.G., ( A l a . C i v . App. from Appeals, the rationale court [Ms. 2010). b u t we given to by award w h e n e v e r d o i n g so " i s i n t h e b e s t child," t o deny of § 30-3-4.1, A l a . the Act authorizes a interests decision Visitation of the Court to a grandparent parent's upheld So. 3d visitation the the c h a l l e n g e b y E.H.G. 12, 2010] We of of minor potentially the grandparent f o r the fundamental right such overriding a visitation, of a f i t parent to the upbringing of h i s or her c h i l d , we h o l d t h a t t h e i s unconstitutional. Background This case the arises grandparents out o f a d i s p u t e between t h e p a r e n t s and of minor children. A t o n e t i m e , E.R.G. a n d Although the Court of C i v i l Appeals upheld the Act, i t reversed the t r i a l court's d e c i s i o n awarding the grandparents v i s i t a t i o n ; that reversal i s the subject of the grandparents' appeal. 1 2 1090883 D.W.G. ("the parents") had participated children. the grandparents") a very close i n the The grandfather E.H.G. relationship, lives failure and of both the and and the parents of a b u s i n e s s s h a r e d by caused financial C.L.G. ("the grandparents and the minor the f a t h e r difficulties for and both families; family relationships subsequently disintegrated. The parents the first grandparents' Desirous restricted, of maintaining the Circuit Court argued in their Act applied was to eventually terminated, c o n t a c t w i t h the g r a n d c h i l d r e n . grandchildren, the and for their grandparents visitation response to relationship petitioned under the unconstitutional the both on the Act. grandparents' with their Jefferson The parents petition i t s face and that as them: "The s u b j e c t s t a t u t e i s c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l y i n f i r m because i t fails to e x p r e s s l y provide that the p a r e n t s ' d e c i s i o n i s p r e s u m e d t o be i n t h e b e s t i n t e r e s t o f t h e c h i l d r e n ; i t v i o l a t e s due p r o c e s s b y f a i l i n g t o r e q u i r e a showing o f harm t o t h e c h i l d r e n as a c o n d i t i o n p r e c e d e n t t o g r a n t i n g v i s i t a t i o n ; i t g i v e s grandparents a cause of a c t i o n r e g a r d l e s s [of] whether the parents' refusal of visitation is [ ] r e a s o n a b l e o r u n r e a s o n a b l e , a n d t h e S t a t e h a s no compelling interest in establishing a cause of action for a reasonable parental denial of grandparent visitation and t h e r e i s no rational r e l a t i o n s h i p between the burden of such provision and any p u b l i c g o a l . " 3 i t 1090883 Because the parents constitutionality served. the a a statute, and t h e t r i a l to represent guardian at attorney further court the i n t e r e s t s litem challenge the The a t t o r n e y g e n e r a l w a i v e d proceedings, litem of raised to the general was participation in appointed a guardian of the grandchildren. recommended granting the ad The grandparents v i s i t a t i o n with the grandchildren. Agreeing with the guardian ad from not litem that continued i n the best alienation interest awarded the grandparents of the grandparents the children, visitation rights. the t r i a l was court I t s order s t a t e d : "'The C o u r t t h e r e f o r e , a f t e r h a v i n g e n g a g e d t h e presumption i n favor of the ... parents, is c o n v i n c e d , t h r o u g h c l e a r and c o n v i n c i n g e v i d e n c e , that the [parents'] e x e r t i o n of control over the l i v e s of the children to the extent of i s o l a t i n g them from t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h t h e i r g r a n d p a r e n t s and alienating them from an otherwise loving r e l a t i o n s h i p i s not i n the best i n t e r e s t of the s a i d minor c h i l d r e n . ' " E.H.G., So. court). motion The p a r e n t s the t r i a l the Court of 3d (quoting moved Appeals, order the order to set aside court denied. of C i v i l its visitation at the trial the judgment, which The p a r e n t s and t h e t r i a l pending 4 appeal. of then appealed to court issued a stay That court reversed 1090883 the judgment favor of In of the trial the opinion, and rendered a judgment in parents. its court immediately to the the Court constitutional of Civil question Appeals presented: "In t h i s a p p e a l , t h i s c o u r t c o n s i d e r s w h e t h e r a circuit court may constitutionally award grandparents visitation with their grandchildren over the o b j e c t i o n of the c h i l d r e n ' s f i t , n a t u r a l , custodial parents without providing clear and convincing evidence that the denial of such visitation would cause the children substantial harm. "The Alabama Grandparent V i s i t a t i o n "The Grandparent V i s i t a t i o n Act Ala. Code 1975, § 30-3-4.1, p r o v i d e s , part: Act ('the Act'), in pertinent " ' ( b ) E x c e p t as o t h e r w i s e p r o v i d e d i n t h i s s e c t i o n , a n y g r a n d p a r e n t may f i l e an o r i g i n a l a c t i o n f o r v i s i t a t i o n r i g h t s to a minor c h i l d i f i t i s i n the best interest o f t h e m i n o r c h i l d a n d one o f t h e f o l l o w i n g conditions e x i s t : "'(5) When the child is living with both biological p a r e n t s , who a r e s t i l l m a r r i e d t o each o t h e r , whether or not t h e r e i s a broken r e l a t i o n s h i p between either or both parents of the minor and the grandparent and e i t h e r or b o t h p a r e n t s have used their parental authority to 5 went 1090883 prohibit a relationship between the c h i l d and t h e g r a n d p a r e n t . " ' ( d ) U p o n t h e f i l i n g o f an o r i g i n a l action the court s h a l l determine i f v i s i t a t i o n by t h e g r a n d p a r e n t i s i n t h e best interests of the c h i l d . Visitation shall n o t be g r a n t e d i f t h e v i s i t a t i o n would endanger the p h y s i c a l h e a l t h of the c h i l d or i m p a i r the emotional development of the c h i l d . In determining the best i n t e r e s t s of the c h i l d , the court shall consider the f o l l o w i n g : " ' ( 1 ) The w i l l i n g n e s s o f t h e grandparent or grandparents to encourage a close relationship between t h e c h i l d and t h e p a r e n t or p a r e n t s . " ' ( 2 ) The p r e f e r e n c e o f t h e c h i l d , i f the c h i l d i s determined t o be o f s u f f i c i e n t m a t u r i t y t o express a preference. "'(3) The mental and p h y s i c a l health of the c h i l d . "'(4) physical grandparent The mental and health of the or grandparents. "'(5) E v i d e n c e of domestic v i o l e n c e i n f l i c t e d b y one p a r e n t upon the other parent or the child. I f the court determines that evidence of domestic violence exists, visitation provisions shall be made i n a manner p r o t e c t i n g the c h i l d or 6 1090883 c h i l d r e n , grandparents parents, from f u r t h e r or abuse. "'(6) Other r e l e v a n t factors in the p a r t i c u l a r circumstances, including the wishes of any p a r e n t who i s l i v i n g . ' " E.H.G., So. 3d a t (footnote Although the Court of C i v i l "the to A c t does n o t e x p r e s s l y prove that the denial i n accordance petitioning requested v i s i t a t i o n In Troxel authorities, v. decisions health, that and r e l i g i o n , consequence must prove 530 a States that Justice U.S. 57 , that would Constitution, the denial of the as w e l l as w i t h that dissent in (2000 ) (Scalia, J. o f p a r e n t s t o make control, whom arises relationship education, the child will "as an i n h e r e n t independent or c o n s t i t u t i o n a l provision." 7 from Scalia's 91 care, right of the parent-child Appeals quoted the right child's i s a fundamental any c a s e l a w , s t a t u t e , grandparent cause harm t o t h e c h i l d . including recognize regarding associate, the United the Court of C i v i l Granville, dissenting), a petitioning that __ So. 3d a t ___ , i t went on t o h o l d would i t s discussion, several require with grandparents Appeals c o r r e c t l y stated of the requested v i s i t a t i o n cause harm t o t h e c h i l d , " that, omitted). of __ So. 3d 1090883 a t ___ . Civil Because a parent's r i g h t Appeals before held, a state i t can l e g i s l a t e "have c o n c l u d e d t h a t i s fundamental, must have away t h a t the Court of a compelling right, interest and s e v e r a l the only compelling interest states justifying [ g r a n d p a r e n t - v i s i t a t i o n s t a t u t e s ] i s t h e p r e v e n t i o n o f harm t o the child." standard alone fundamental noted that without denial So. __ So. 3d a t ___ . "a best-interests-of-the-child to j u s t i f y of the parents. court and cannot convincing grandparent that denied parental Thus, the Court petitioning the c h i l d before right a trial infringing on t h e The C o u r t o f C i v i l Appeals award grandparent evidence of the requested v i s i t a t i o n 3d a t ___ . prove i s insufficient right clear A be court of C i v i l i n question. harmed may demonstrating Appeals under held a t h e A c t must i f the v i s i t a t i o n impinge __ that the i s fundamental I t wrote: "Recognizing t h a t we a r e n o t b o u n d b y t h e p l u r a l i t y o p i n i o n s i n [ D o d d v . B u r l e s o n , 932 S o . 2 d 912 ( A l a . C i v . App. 2005) ('Dodd I ' ) ] , [ D o d d v . Burleson, 967 S o . 2 d 7 1 5 ( A l a . C i v . A p p . 2 0 0 7 ) ('Dodd I I ' ) ] , a n d L . B . S . [ v . L.M.S., 8 2 6 S o . 2 d 178 (Ala. C i v . App. 2002)], we hereby adopt the r e a s o n i n g o f Hawk [ v . Hawk, 8 5 5 S.W.2d 5 7 3 ( T e n n . 1993),] and t h e m a j o r i t y of cases from other j u r i s d i c t i o n s by holding that a grandparent seeking v i s i t a t i o n w i t h a c h i l d over t h e o b j e c t i o n of a f i t , 8 that would harm t h e c h i l d . " for visitation will visitation 1090883 natural, c u s t o d i a l p a r e n t , as an i n i t i a l m a t t e r , must p r o v e by c l e a r and c o n v i n c i n g e v i d e n c e t h a t t h e d e n i a l o f t h e r e q u e s t e d v i s i t a t i o n would harm t h e child. " I n f o l l o w i n g Hawk a n d s i m i l a r d e c i s i o n s , we d o not i n t e n d t o minimize the relationship between grandparents and g r a n d c h i l d r e n or t h e v a l u a b l e c o n t r i b u t i o n s t h a t t h a t r e l a t i o n s h i p may make t o t h e development of t h e g r a n d c h i l d , t o which the d i s s e n t refers. So. 3d a t . A s s t a t e d i n R.S.C. [ v . J.B.C., 812 S o . 2 d 3 6 1 ( A l a . C i v . App. 2001) ( p l u r a l i t y opinion)], supra: "'If a grandparent i s p h y s i c a l l y , mentally, and morally f i t , then a grandchild o r d i n a r i l y w i l l b e n e f i t from a r e l a t i o n s h i p with that grandparent. That grandparents and g r a n d c h i l d r e n n o r m a l l y c a n be e x p e c t e d to have a s p e c i a l bond cannot be d e n i e d . Each can b e n e f i t from c o n t a c t w i t h t h e other. Among o t h e r t h i n g s , t h e c h i l d c a n learn lessons of love, respect, r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , and f a m i l y and community heritage.' "812 S o . 2 d a t 3 6 5 . H o w e v e r , we m u s t a c k n o w l e d g e that the statutory r i g h t of a grandparent t o v i s i t with c h i l d r e n over the o b j e c t i o n of a f i t , n a t u r a l , custodial parent i s only of a recent origin, a p p e a r i n g f o r t h e f i r s t time i n t h i s s t a t e i n 1980. See W e a t h e r s v . C o m p t o n , 7 2 3 S o . 2 d 1 2 8 4 , 1 2 8 6 ( A l a . Civ. App. 1998). That r i g h t h a r d l y s t a n d s as an e n d u r i n g t r a d i t i o n o f W e s t e r n c i v i l i z a t i o n on e q u a l f o o t i n g w i t h t h e p a r e n t a l r i g h t t o t h e custody and control of children. S e e J . S . v . D.W., 835 So. 2 d 174, 184 ( A l a . C i v . A p p . 2 0 0 1 ) , r e v ' d on o t h e r g r o u n d s , E x p a r t e D.W., 835 So. 2 d 186 ( A l a . 2 0 0 2 ) , on r e m a n d , 835 So. 2 d 191 ( A l a . C i v . A p p . 2 0 0 2 ) . Consequently, although the state may have a legitimate i n t e r e s t i n fostering the grandparentg r a n d c h i l d r e l a t i o n s h i p , R.S.C., 812 S o . 2 d a t 3 6 5 , 9 1090883 t h e s t a t e may n o t d o s o i n a m a n n e r t h a t unduly infringes on f u n d a m e n t a l parental rights. To prevent j u s t such overreaching, we h o l d t h a t t h e s t a t e may o v e r r u l e t h e o b j e c t i o n o f a f i t , n a t u r a l , custodial parent t o grandparent v i s i t a t i o n only i n o r d e r t o p r e v e n t harm t o t h e c h i l d . " E.H.G., So. 3d a t Although that harm imposed be (footnote the p l a i n language shown, a "harm" the Court standard omitted). o f t h e A c t does n o t r e q u i r e of C i v i l i n an a t t e m p t Appeals to uphold judicially the A c t : "In so r u l i n g , we do n o t , a s t h e d i s s e n t suggests, So. 3d a t , d e c l a r e t h e A c t t o be facially unconstitutional. As p r e s e n t l y drafted, the A c t r e q u i r e s a t r i a l c o u r t i n a g r a n d p a r e n t visitation case to consider '[o]ther relevant factors i n the p a r t i c u l a r circumstances 'Ala. Code 1 9 7 5 , § 3 0 - 3 - 4 . 1 ( d ) ( 6 ) . S i n c e we h o l d t h a t a s h o w i n g o f harm t o t h e c h i l d r e s u l t i n g f r o m t h e d e n i a l o f v i s i t a t i o n i s a p r e r e q u i s i t e t o any award of visitation u n d e r t h e A c t , we conclude that subsection (d)(6) necessarily encompasses that showing as a ' r e l e v a n t f a c t o r ' and t h a t t h e A c t i s , therefore, facially valid. See L.B.S. [ v . L . M . S . ] , 826 S o . 2 d [ 1 7 8 ] a t 185 [ ( A l a . C i v . A p p . 2 0 0 2 ) ] (holding that the judiciary could adopt a construction of a s t a t u t e that would uphold i t s constitutionality). We e m p h a s i z e , h o w e v e r , t h a t t h e s h o w i n g o f harm i s n o t t o be w e i g h e d a l o n g w i t h t h e other factors in § 30-3-4.1(d)(6). Rather, c o n s i s t e n t w i t h L . B . S . a n d J . W . J . [ v . P.K.R., 976 So. 2d 1035 ( A l a . C i v . App. 2 0 0 7 ) ] , a court considering a p e t i t i o n f o r grandparent visitation must f i r s t presume t h e c o r r e c t n e s s o f t h e d e c i s i o n of a f i t , natural, custodial parent as to grandparent v i s i t a t i o n and then determine whether the p e t i t i o n i n g g r a n d p a r e n t has p r e s e n t e d c l e a r and convincing evidence that the denial of the requested 10 1090883 v i s i t a t i o n w i l l harm t h e c h i l d . I f so, the court may then weigh the other statutory factors to determine t h e mode and e x t e n t of grandparent v i s i t a t i o n necessary to alleviate t h e harm t o t h e c h i l d without further infringing on t h e f u n d a m e n t a l rights of the parents. S e e L . B . S . v . L.M.S., 826 So. 2 d a t 192 (Murdock, J . , concurring i n the j u d g m e n t o f r e v e r s a l o n l y ) ( n o t i n g t h a t due p r o c e s s r e q u i r e s ' t h a t t h e c o u r t may o r d e r o n l y v i s i t a t i o n n a r r o w l y t a i l o r e d t o a d d r e s s an a d j u d g e d h a r m ' ) . " E.H.G., So. 3d a t . Thus, the Court h e l d t h a t b e c a u s e harm t o t h e c h i l d "other relevant factors" unconstitutional it Civil Appeals another However, that clear and depriving harm t o deny the Court of o f harm be t h e f i r s t convincing the child the child, "other the requested relevant may This based Court takes the t r i a l court to the parent's to only i f show that the grandparent will consider expressly presented very on c o n s t i t u t i o n a l attended i s presented with simply factor considered Then, of v i s i t a t i o n Standard i s not visitation. evidence factors" the Act i s not i t included overcome t h e p r e s u m p t i o n o f c o r r e c t n e s s decision under t h e although the showing b u t must Appeals of the Act, relevant factors" ruled factor, c a n be a d d r e s s e d p r o v i s i o n of the Act, on i t s f a c e . among t h e " o t h e r of C i v i l the remaining i n the A c t . o f Review seriously grounds. 11 a challenge to a statute 1090883 "'The standard of review for determining the constitutionality of a s t a t u t e was s t a t e d i n S t a t e B o a r d o f H e a l t h v. Greater Birmingham Ass'n of Home B u i l d e r s , I n c . , 384 S o . 2 d 1 0 5 8 , 1 0 6 1 ( A l a . 1980): "'"Before turning to the constitutional issue posed i n t h i s case, i t i s appropriate t o reiterate the fundamental p r o p o s i t i o n that v a l i d l y enacted legislation i s presumed t o be constitutional. A s we s t a t e d i n Mobile Housing Board v. Cross, 285 A l a . 9 4 , 9 7 , 2 2 9 S o . 2 d 4 8 5 , 487 (1969): "'"'Every presumption is i n favor of the c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i t y o f an act of the l e g i s l a t u r e and t h i s c o u r t w i l l n o t declare i t invalid u n l e s s i n i t s judgment, the act clearly and unmistakably comes within the i n h i b i t i o n of t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n . ' "'"We will not invalidate a s t a t u t e on c o n s t i t u t i o n a l g r o u n d s i f by reasonable c o n s t r u c t i o n i t can be g i v e n a f i e l d o f o p e r a t i o n within constitutionally imposed l i m i t a t i o n s . See Ex p a r t e H u g u l e y W a t e r S y s t e m , 282 A l a . 6 3 3 , 213 So. 2 d 7 9 9 ( 1 9 6 8 ) . " " ' I n Home I n d e m n i t y C o . v . A n d e r s , 2 d 8 3 6 , 840 ( A l a . 1 9 8 4 ) , t h i s C o u r t 12 459 So. stated: 1090883 "'"In determining whether t h e a c t i s c o n s t i t u t i o n a l , we a r e bound by the following presumption: "'"'[I]n passing upon the constitutionality of a legislative act, the courts uniformly approach the question with every presumption and i n t e n d m e n t i n f a v o r of i t s validity, and seek t o s u s t a i n rather than strike down t h e enactment of a coordinate branch of government. A l l these p r i n c i p l e s a r e embraced in the simple statement that i t i s the recognized duty of the court to sustain the act unless i t i s clear beyond r e a s o n a b l e doubt that i t i s v i o l a t i v e of the fundamental law.' "'"Alabama State F e d e r a t i o n of L a b o r v . M c A d o r y , 2 4 6 A l a . 1, 9, 18 S o . 2 d 8 1 0 , 815 ( 1 9 4 4 ) . " "'See C r o s s l i n v . C i t y o f M u s c l e 436 S o . 2 d 8 6 2 , 863 ( A l a . 1 9 8 3 ) . ' "Town o f V a n c e v . C i t y o f T u s c a l o o s a , 739, 742-43 ( A l a . 1 9 9 5 ) . " Lunsford v. J e f f e r s o n County, Shoals, 661 So. 2d 973 S o . 2 d 3 2 7 , 3 2 9 - 3 0 ( A l a . 2007). 13 1090883 We also noted i n Lunsford: " I n R i c e v . E n g l i s h , 835 S o . 2 d 1 5 7 , 162 ( A l a . 2002), t h i s C o u r t , c i t i n g Ex p a r t e Selma & G u l f R.R., 45 A l a . 696 ( 1 8 7 1 ) , r e i t e r a t e d ' t h e s e t t l e d principle that the people have forbidden the Legislature from conducting itself i n a manner i n c o n s i s t e n t w i t h t h e i r c o n s t i t u t i o n a n d when i t d o e s , i t i s i n c u m b e n t upon t h e j u d i c i a r y t o n u l l i f y a legislative enactment contrary to the constitution.'" Lunsford, 973 So. 2d a t The The right 330. Constitutional of parents to d i r e c t Question the upbringing c h i l d r e n h a s l o n g b e e n r e c o g n i z e d as f u n d a m e n t a l States the Supreme Fourteenth Court and, t h e r e f o r e , as a r i g h t of by t h e U n i t e d p r o t e c t e d by Amendment: "The F o u r t e e n t h A m e n d m e n t p r o v i d e s t h a t no S t a t e shall ' d e p r i v e any p e r s o n of l i f e , liberty, or p r o p e r t y , w i t h o u t d u e p r o c e s s o f l a w . ' We h a v e l o n g r e c o g n i z e d t h a t t h e A m e n d m e n t ' s Due P r o c e s s C l a u s e , l i k e i t s F i f t h Amendment c o u n t e r p a r t , 'guarantees more t h a n f a i r p r o c e s s . ' Washington v. G l u c k s b e r g , 521 U.S. 7 0 2 , 719 ( 1 9 9 7 ) . The C l a u s e a l s o i n c l u d e s a s u b s t a n t i v e component t h a t ' p r o v i d e s h e i g h t e n e d protection against government interference with c e r t a i n f u n d a m e n t a l r i g h t s and l i b e r t y interests.' I d . , a t 7 2 0 ; s e e a l s o R e n o v . F l o r e s , 507 U.S. 2 9 2 , 301-302 (1993). "The l i b e r t y i n t e r e s t a t i s s u e i n t h i s c a s e - - t h e interest of parents i n the care, custody, and c o n t r o l of t h e i r c h i l d r e n - - i s perhaps the o l d e s t of the f u n d a m e n t a l l i b e r t y i n t e r e s t s r e c o g n i z e d by t h i s Court. More than 75 years ago, i n Meyer v. 14 their 1090883 N e b r a s k a , 262 U.S. 3 9 0 , 3 9 9 , 4 0 1 (1 9 2 3 ) , we h e l d that the 'liberty' p r o t e c t e d b y t h e Due Process Clause includes the r i g h t of parents to ' e s t a b l i s h a home a n d b r i n g up c h i l d r e n ' a n d ' t o c o n t r o l t h e e d u c a t i o n o f t h e i r own.' Two y e a r s l a t e r , i n P i e r c e v . S o c i e t y o f S i s t e r s , 268 U.S. 5 1 0 , 5 3 4 - 5 3 5 ( 1 9 2 5 ) , we a g a i n h e l d t h a t t h e ' l i b e r t y o f p a r e n t s and guardians' includes the right 'to d i r e c t the u p b r i n g i n g and e d u c a t i o n o f c h i l d r e n under their control.' We e x p l a i n e d i n P i e r c e t h a t ' [ t ] h e c h i l d i s n o t t h e m e r e c r e a t u r e o f t h e S t a t e ; t h o s e who n u r t u r e h i m and d i r e c t h i s d e s t i n y have t h e r i g h t , coupled w i t h t h e h i g h duty, t o r e c o g n i z e and prepare him f o r a d d i t i o n a l o b l i g a t i o n s . ' I d . , a t 5 3 5 . We r e t u r n e d t o t h e s u b j e c t i n P r i n c e v. M a s s a c h u s e t t s , 321 U.S. 158 ( 1 9 4 4 ) , a n d a g a i n c o n f i r m e d t h a t t h e r e is a constitutional dimension to the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children. ' I t i s c a r d i n a l w i t h us t h a t t h e c u s t o d y , c a r e and nurture of the c h i l d reside f i r s t i n the parents, whose primary function and freedom include p r e p a r a t i o n f o r o b l i g a t i o n s the s t a t e can n e i t h e r supply nor hinder.' I d . , a t 166. "In s u b s e q u e n t c a s e s a l s o , we h a v e r e c o g n i z e d t h e f u n d a m e n t a l r i g h t o f p a r e n t s t o make d e c i s i o n s c o n c e r n i n g t h e c a r e , custody, and c o n t r o l o f t h e i r children. S e e , e . g . , S t a n l e y v . I l l i n o i s , 405 U.S. 6 4 5 , 651 ( 1 9 7 2 ) ( ' I t i s p l a i n t h a t t h e i n t e r e s t o f a parent i n t h e companionship, c a r e , custody, and management o f h i s o r h e r c h i l d r e n "come[s] t o t h i s Court with a momentum f o r r e s p e c t lacking when a p p e a l i s made t o l i b e r t i e s w h i c h d e r i v e m e r e l y f r o m shifting economic arrangements"' (citation omitted)); Wisconsin v . Y o d e r , 40 6 U.S. 2 0 5 , 232 (1972) ('The history and culture of Western c i v i l i z a t i o n r e f l e c t a strong t r a d i t i o n of parental concern f o r t h e n u r t u r e and u p b r i n g i n g o f t h e i r children. This primary role of the parents i n the upbringing of t h e i r children i s now e s t a b l i s h e d b e y o n d d e b a t e as an e n d u r i n g A m e r i c a n t r a d i t i o n ' ) ; Q u i l l o i n v . W a l c o t t , 434 U.S. 2 4 6 , 2 5 5 ( 1 9 7 8 ) ('We 15 1090883 have recognized on n u m e r o u s occasions that the relationship between parent and child i s c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l y p r o t e c t e d ' ) ; P a r h a m v . J . R . , 442 U.S. 584, 602 (1979) ('Our jurisprudence historically has r e f l e c t e d Western civilization c o n c e p t s o f t h e f a m i l y as a u n i t w i t h b r o a d p a r e n t a l authority over minor children. Our cases have consistently followed that course'); Santosky v. K r a m e r , 455 U.S. 7 4 5 , 753 ( 1 9 8 2 ) ( d i s c u s s i n g ' [ t ] h e fundamental l i b e r t y i n t e r e s t of n a t u r a l parents i n t h e c a r e , c u s t o d y , and management o f t h e i r c h i l d ' ) ; Glucksberg, s u p r a , a t 720 ( ' I n a l o n g l i n e o f c a s e s , we h a v e h e l d that, i n addition to the s p e c i f i c freedoms protected by t h e B i l l of Rights, the "liberty" s p e c i a l l y p r o t e c t e d b y t h e Due P r o c e s s Clause includes the righ[t] ... t o d i r e c t t h e e d u c a t i o n and u p b r i n g i n g o f one's c h i l d r e n ' ( c i t i n g Meyer and P i e r c e ) ) . I n l i g h t of t h i s extensive p r e c e d e n t , i t c a n n o t now b e d o u b t e d t h a t t h e Due P r o c e s s C l a u s e o f t h e F o u r t e e n t h Amendment p r o t e c t s t h e f u n d a m e n t a l r i g h t o f p a r e n t s t o make d e c i s i o n s concerning t h e c a r e , c u s t o d y , and c o n t r o l o f t h e i r children." Troxel, 530 U.S. a t 6 5 - 6 6 . fundamental So. 3 d 1002 right 3d App. The of parental (Ala. 2008), to parent a t 1006 Civ. and nature one's (quoting K.W. Court has a l s o r e c o g n i z e d rights. f o r example, child I n Ex p a r t e we noted i s a fundamental the J.E., 1 that "'[t]he right.'" 1 So. v . J . G . , 856 S o . 2 d 8 5 9 , 874 ( A l a . 2003)). fundamental r i g h t upbringing procedural This of t h e i r of parents children components: 16 to d i r e c t the has both education substantive and 1090883 "It i s , of course, true that 'freedom o f p e r s o n a l c h o i c e i n m a t t e r s o f ... f a m i l y l i f e i s o n e o f t h e l i b e r t i e s p r o t e c t e d b y t h e Due P r o c e s s Clause o f t h e F o u r t e e n t h Amendment.' Cleveland Board of E d u c a t i o n v . L a F l e u r , 414 U.S. 6 3 2 , 6 3 9 - 6 4 0 (1974). There does e x i s t a ' p r i v a t e r e a l m of family life which the state cannot enter,' Prince v. M a s s a c h u s e t t s , 3 2 1 U.S. 1 5 8 , 1 66 (1944 ) , t h a t h a s been afforded both substantive and procedural protection." Smith v. Reform, Organization 4 3 1 U.S. substantive to of Foster Families 8 1 6 , 842 (1977) (footnotes component of this make d e c i s i o n s c o n c e r n i n g Troxel, been 530 U.S. a canon principle respect (Stewart, that includes a t 66, o f t h e c h i l d : So d e e p l y Parham J., law that parents v. J.R., concurring) 442 (footnote The decisions children act regarding substantive regarding the child's fundamental the "care, The and c o n t r o l , " speak may c o m p e l U.S. & authority 584, i t has for their imbedded i n our t r a d i t i o n s substantive due-process r i g h t of parents make d e c i s i o n s broad "For centuries the Constitution i t s e l f i t . " omitted). the "care, custody, o f t h e common minor c h i l d r e n . right for Equality i s this a State to 621 (1979) omitted). That includes the right to companions. right custody, of parents and c o n t r o l " to make of their i s p r e m i s e d on t h e l e g a l p r e s u m p t i o n t h a t f i t p a r e n t s i n the best i n t e r e s t s of their 17 children: 1090883 "[T]here i s a presumption that f i t parents act i n t h e b e s t i n t e r e s t s o f t h e i r c h i l d r e n . As t h i s C o u r t e x p l a i n e d i n P a r h a m [ v . J . R . , 442 U.S. 584 ( 1 9 7 9 ) ] : "'[O]ur c o n s t i t u t i o n a l system long ago r e j e c t e d any n o t i o n t h a t a c h i l d i s t h e mere c r e a t u r e of the State a n d , on t h e contrary, asserted that parents generally have t h e r i g h t , c o u p l e d w i t h t h e h i g h duty, to recognize and p r e p a r e [ t h e i r c h i l d r e n ] f o r a d d i t i o n a l o b l i g a t i o n s . ... The l a w ' s concept of the family rests on a p r e s u m p t i o n t h a t p a r e n t s p o s s e s s what a child lacks i n maturity, experience, and c a p a c i t y f o r judgment r e q u i r e d f o r making life's difficult decisions. More important, h i s t o r i c a l l y i t has r e c o g n i z e d that natural bonds of a f f e c t i o n lead parents to act i n the best i n t e r e s t s of their children.' 442 U.S., at 602 (alteration in original) (internal q u o t a t i o n marks and c i t a t i o n s o m i t t e d ) . ' "Accordingly, so l o n g as a p a r e n t a d e q u a t e l y cares for h i s or her c h i l d r e n (i.e., i s f i t ) , there will n o r m a l l y b e no r e a s o n f o r t h e S t a t e t o i n j e c t i t s e l f into the p r i v a t e realm of the family to further q u e s t i o n t h e a b i l i t y o f t h a t p a r e n t t o make t h e b e s t decisions concerning the rearing of that parent's children." Troxel, 530 U.S. Constitution parental requires unfitness to the question custody, a t 68-69. that In this context, therefore, a p r i o r and independent m u s t b e made b e f o r e w h e t h e r an o r d e r the court best i n t e r e s t s . 18 f i n d i n g of may disturbing a parent's and c o n t r o l " o f h i s or h e r c h i l d the i s i n that proceed "care, child's 1090883 The s t a t e ' s c o m p e l l i n g i n t e r e s t i s limited the d e c i s i o n s of u n f i t parents. Court v . K r a m e r , 455 U.S. said i n Santosky only "[a]fter that initial As t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s 745 Supreme (1982), i t is t h e S t a t e has e s t a b l i s h e d p a r e n t a l u n f i t n e s s a t proceeding, dispositional stage natural parents parents are unfit, to overruling that do shown [that] the i n t e r e s t s diverge." by the court 455 clear the state's i n t e r e s t and may assume of the c h i l d U.S. at 7 60. convincing at the and t h e Unless evidence i s not compelling: the to "[T]he be State r e g i s t e r s no g a i n t o w a r d s i t s d e c l a r e d g o a l s when i t s e p a r a t e s children Illinois, from 405 the custody U.S. 645, of f i t parents." 652 (1972). Stanley A l l "parents c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l y e n t i t l e d t o a h e a r i n g on t h e i r f i t n e s s their children 658. In the absence parent the i s unfit, judicial caring fact a r e removed from of clear their and the state's basis system evaporates. f o r the c h i l d r e n a f i t parent." custody." Quilloin State's 19 before at that a through interest in i f the father i s i n v. W a l c o t t , (1978). proof for intervention i s 'de m i n i m i s ' are 405 U.S. convincing "The v. 434 U.S. 246, 248 1090883 Because parents of their children, custody, under are presumed to act and the law c o n t r o l " t o be ordinary also i n the best presumes superior interests parental of t h i r d to that "care, persons circumstances: "The prima f a c i e r i g h t of a n a t u r a l p a r e n t to the c u s t o d y of h i s or her c h i l d , as a g a i n s t the r i g h t of c u s t o d y i n a nonparent, i s grounded i n the common l a w c o n c e p t t h a t t h i s p r i m a r y p a r e n t a l r i g h t o f c u s t o d y i s i n t h e b e s t i n t e r e s t and w e l f a r e of t h e c h i l d as a m a t t e r o f l a w . So s t r o n g i s t h i s presumption, absent a showing of voluntary f o r f e i t u r e o f t h a t r i g h t , t h a t i t c a n be overcome o n l y by a f i n d i n g , s u p p o r t e d by c o m p e t e n t evidence, t h a t the p a r e n t s e e k i n g c u s t o d y i s g u i l t y of such m i s c o n d u c t or n e g l e c t to a degree w h i c h r e n d e r s t h a t p a r e n t an u n f i t a n d i m p r o p e r p e r s o n t o be entrusted with the care and upbringing of the child in question." Ex parte Mathews, presumption 428 So. 2d 58, 59 is applicable to cases (Ala. 1983). That same involving visitation with nonparents. State subject J., action that l i m i t s to strict concurring (1988) scrutiny. Troxel, i n j u d g m e n t ) ; C l a r k v. 530 U.S. is generally at J e t e r , 486 80 U.S. ( " [ C ] l a s s i f i c a t i o n s a f f e c t i n g fundamental are given the most e x a c t i n g 403 365, U.S. a fundamental r i g h t classification 375 (1971) involved ... s c r u t i n y . " ) ; Graham v. ("It was 20 is enough subjected to to (Thomas, 456, 461 rights ... Richardson, say strict that the scrutiny 1090883 under the compelling state interest test ... because i m p i n g e d upon the f u n d a m e n t a l r i g h t of i n t e r s t a t e Strict scrutiny compelling As the First interest, United i t chooses articulated the least interest. Government's ends are t a i l o r e d to achieve Inc. v. FCC, The 492 nature circumstances, United U.S. and States 205, 215 w r i t t e n on highest order legitimate of but compelling; 126 a compelling i t is however, to enough to a the show t h a t the t h e means m u s t be Commc'ns o f carefully California, (1989). interest v a r i e s based on the as the Yoder, 406 Court said i n Wisconsin (1972): "The essence of subject i s that only those and those otherwise a fundamental Therefore, "we v. a l l t h a t has the right. been interests served can the overbalance 215 must s e a r c h i n g l y examine the 406 406 of said at s t a t e seeks to promote." 21 the further Supreme to" of interest stringent standard; not a means. [limit a compelling means ends." Sable 115, context very claims the I t i s not show restrictive a (emphasis added). interests restrictive ... those U.S. to promote state i n the may, movement."). the least said Government i n order that the Supreme C o u r t "The right] requires a d v a n c e d by States Amendment: fundamental if generally i t U.S. U.S. at 221. See 1090883 also the T r o x e l , 530 U.S. a t 80 State of Washington interest -- to second-guessing with the third Court say that nothing parties."). of C i v i l clear l a c k s even state interference one -- in visitation c o u r t and here p r o p e r l y a p p l i e d a c l e a r - a n d - standard, has with compelling decision regarding as r e q u i r e d by S a n t o s k y , and c o n v i n c i n g evidence the a The d e c i s i o n s o f t h e t r i a l Appeals ("Here, a l e g i t i m a t e governmental of a f i t parent's convincing-evidence The (Thomas, J . , c o n c u r r i n g ) a must d e m o n s t r a t e , compelling the rights interest of the parents supra. however, requiring and t h a t that i n t e r e s t i s b e i n g a d v a n c e d b y t h e l e a s t r e s t r i c t i v e m e a n s . The Act fails The to provide core of parental rights make d e c i s i o n s a b o u t particular, their have nurture of their 'paramount children' t o determine McIntyre (1995) a 3 4 1 N.C. Petersen common ... to law rule to custody, right children to In determine i s that care and includes the shall associate." 6 2 9 , 6 3 1 , 4 6 1 S . E . 2 d 7 4 5 , 748 v. Rogers, 22 of a parent parents ... a n d t h a t w i t h whom t h e i r v. M c I n t y r e , (quoting "[T]he right standard. of h i s or her c h i l d . law permitted c h i l d r e n ' s companions: of this i s the right the upbringing t h e common parents right f o rthe application 337 N.C. 3 9 7 , 402 , 445 1090883 S . E . 2 d 9 0 1 , 903 ( 1 9 9 4 ) ) . Unlike parents, rights grandchildren i n regard to their common l a w p r i n c i p l e s , visitation grandparents and communication with g r a n d p a r e n t s h a d no a t common l a w . " U n d e r lacked any l e g a l right to the grandchildren i f such v i s i t a t i o n was f o r b i d d e n b y t h e p a r e n t s . " 434 S o . 2 d 7 8 0 , 782 (Ala. 1983). Ex p a r t e Therefore, Bronstein, the rights grandparents to v i s i t a t i o n with t h e i r grandchildren as c r e a t e d b y t h e A c t ; a common l a w s t a t e , law d i d not allow 434 So. 2d a t 783. that principle, common with were shown." and t h e r e i s no q u e s t i o n grandparents grandparent As familiar could lacked of v i s i t a t i o n . " with was "At be e n t i t l e d there a c t i o n s were 122 I l l . Court of construction that 23 said circumstances (1988). Because the upbringing presumption i n the child's Supreme court-ordered 2 d 1 5 3 , 1 5 5 - 5 6 , 522 to direct was no l e g a l limited. to D e c . 3 6 6 , 367 the right t h e common that disagreed visitation Bush v. S q u e l l a t i , the I l l i n o i s rule right only "Alabama i s that a m i n o r c h i l d o n l y when s p e c i a l grandchildren, grandparents' a legal Even i n j u r i s d i c t i o n s 1 2 2 5 , 1 2 2 6 , 119 I l l . grandparents their are purely statutory. law, grandparents visitation N.E.2d they exist of best that the interest. i n Bush: statutes of "'It i s a i n derogation of 1090883 t h e common l a w c a n n o t beyond what i s e x p r e s s e d by t h e words necessarily 161, v. be c o n s t r u e d as c h a n g i n g implied from what i s expressed.'" 522 N . E . 2 d a t 1 2 2 9 , 119 I l l . Klein, 58 I l l . 2 d 2 2 0 , 2 2 5 , 317 N . E . 2 d A l a . Code § 1-3-1, far as i t i s n o t i n c o n s i s t e n t w i t h of institutions this and laws, continue i n force, altered or repealed shall, by 5 5 6 , 559 ( 1 9 7 4 ) ) . law of England, common so laws and such and shall time from together i t may be Therefore, we t o time the Legislature."). requests f o r court-ordered visitation law has been 2d a t with to t h e common the as 122 I l l . of decisions, be t h e r u l e except or i s the Constitution, continue that apply 1 9 7 5 ("The common state, statute D e c . a t 370 ( q u o t i n g R u s s e l l See institutions of such t h e common l a w law to deny grandparents' except to the extent m o d i f i e d by a s t a t u t e that i s constitutional. The Act, with legislature creating their visitation recognize of m o d i f i e d t h e common i n grandparents t o pass the fundamental the parents. a limited right In grandchildren. statute l a w b y means o f t h e for a order constitutional presumption The A c t , h o w e v e r , 24 to v i s i t a t i o n grandparent- muster, i n favor i t must of the rights and p a r t i c u l a r l y § 30-3- 1090883 4 . 1 ( d ) , makes Instead, i t instructs visitation child." among no m e n t i o n The "wishes "[o]ther "consider." that § right must be least to who is living" factors" relevant the A l a . Code i s fundamental, subject necessary even to fundamental to right, noted visitation strict court should As noted To upon t h e p a r e n t ' s resulting a compelling to from the a Act do. a similar To be right state the grandparent's burdens this Illinois statute: "The significant interference that section 607(b)(1) h a s on p a r e n t s ' fundamental right i s f u r t h e r e v i d e n c e d by t h e p r o c e d u r e c o n t e m p l a t e d by the s t a t u t e . The g r a n d p a r e n t s may f i l e a p e t i t i o n for v i s i t a t i o n under c e r t a i n c i r c u m s t a n c e s : i n t h i s c a s e , w h e r e t h e p a r e n t s a r e d i v o r c e d . The p a r e n t o r parents are then haled i n t o court. The p a r e n t s m u s t p r e s u m a b l y h i r e a t t o r n e y s , and then p r e s e n t e v i d e n c e and d e f e n d t h e i r d e c i s i o n r e g a r d i n g t h e v i s i t a t i o n before a t r i a l court. The p a r e n t s ' a u t h o r i t y o v e r 25 on way, u s i n g t h e r e g a r d l e s s o f t h e outcome, as t h e when c o n s i d e r i n g merely scrutiny. i t fails under are 1975. i f of the and a l i m i t a t i o n to protect This the l i t i g a t i o n gain Court means. of parents. "determine a n d m u s t do s o i n a n a r r o w l y t a i l o r e d contrary, Supreme court t h e A c t must i n f r i n g e restrictive attempt right i s i n the best i n t e r e s t s o f any p a r e n t right to the extent interest trial 30-3-4.1(d)(6), a parent's constitutional, only the by t h e g r a n d p a r e n t the above, of the fundamental 1090883 t h e i r c h i l d r e n i s n e c e s s a r i l y d i m i n i s h e d by t h i s procedure. T h i s c a n o n l y be c h a r a c t e r i z e d as a significant interference with parents' fundamental r i g h t t o make d e c i s i o n s r e g a r d i n g t h e u p b r i n g i n g o f their children." Lulay v. 531-32, Lulay, 250 I l l . for requests Court litigating of constitutional implicated.'" child similar the right Instead standard even parent-child N.E.2d 521, i s no l e s s true for the The T r o x e l "[T]he burden can i t s e l f relationship of a c u s t o d i a l parent child's dissent, i n t h e A c t on does though not protect i t i s that fundamental Clause i n nature of the Fourteenth to the i n t e r e s t s of the c h i l d . important, 739 This proceeding b e 'so that t o make of the certain welfare becomes 530 U.S. a t 1 0 1 ) . theb e s t - i n t e r e s t s - o f - t h e the fundamental right of recognizing the substantive parents, Process (2000). conclusion: relations Kennedy's reliance parents, 455, 474-75, 530 U.S. a t 75 ( J u s t i c e O ' C o n n o r f o r t h e C o u r t , Justice The of a determinations quoting 2d D e c . 7 5 8 , 769 a domestic disruptive Ill. f o r v i s i t a t i o n brought under the Act. reached basic 193 t o be s u r e , that of i s at issue. and p r o c e d u r a l rights and p r o t e c t e d b y t h e Due Amendment, t h e A c t l o o k s Those i n t e r e s t s b u t , a b s e n t more, 26 right they only are incredibly do n o t r i s e t o 1090883 the level of a compelling state interest. Furthermore, a p p l i c a t i o n of a b e s t - i n t e r e s t s s t a n d a r d s u b s t i t u t e s the for the parent as parental rights, no compelling there i s no We in the interest means not lives expressed by that of a parent's do decision-maker, without regard again without a compelling interest. showing restrictive violates the deny is required by application a c h i e v i n g any fundamental the Act of the Act state and because the p l a y e d by o f many g r a n d c h i l d r e n . We share the Act o f West the grandparents Virginia: sentiments "It i s b i o l o g i c a l fact that grandparents are bound to t h e i r g r a n d c h i l d r e n by the unbreakable l i n k s of h e r e d i t y . I t i s common human e x p e r i e n c e t h a t t h e c o n c e r n and i n t e r e s t g r a n d p a r e n t s t a k e i n the w e l f a r e of their grandchildren far exceeds anything e x p l i c a b l e i n p u r e l y b i o l o g i c a l terms. A v e r y s p e c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p o f t e n a r i s e s and c o n t i n u e s b e t w e e n g r a n d p a r e n t s a n d g r a n d c h i l d r e n . The t e n s i o n s a n d c o n f l i c t s w h i c h c o m m o n l y mar r e l a t i o n s b e t w e e n p a r e n t s and c h i l d r e n a r e o f t e n a b s e n t b e t w e e n t h o s e v e r y same p a r e n t s a n d t h e i r g r a n d c h i l d r e n . Visits w i t h a grandparent are o f t e n a p r e c i o u s p a r t of a child's e x p e r i e n c e and there are b e n e f i t s which d e v o l v e upon t h e g r a n d c h i l d from t h e relationship w i t h h i s g r a n d p a r e n t s w h i c h he c a n n o t d e r i v e f r o m any o t h e r r e l a t i o n s h i p . N e i t h e r the L e g i s l a t u r e nor this Court is blind to human truths which g r a n d p a r e n t s and g r a n d c h i l d r e n have a l w a y s known." 27 least right. the v a l u a b l e r o l e Supreme C o u r t for Because i s the interest, judge 1090883 Petition of Nearhoof, (1987 ) ( q u o t i n g 199, 204-05 Mimkon i s no the State interaction over the has between were b e f o r e us -- interests grandparent -the of the Act the m i g h t be to d i r e c t i s therefore can that use 66 N.J. 426, this in case, compelling the S.E.2d 587, 437, however, interest and parents. in And 592 332 A.2d indicating in the even rights. in forcing grandchildren i f such of be subparagraph determining flawed s a v e d by alone on a of the to deciding constitutional striking a standard visitation, a Act the when best for unconstitutional. provides state with of t h e i r c h i l d r e n , simply case the regard parents the and appropriate any failure the the u p b r i n g i n g where visitation without This favor case that appropriate, fatally the Act any indicate of v i s i t a t i o n i n f r i n g e s of parents to 359 grandparents child a presumption (d); in applies include Nor 364, i . e . , a case showing such a c o m p e l l i n g fundamental Act 359, Ford, a parents' questions v. evidence o b j e c t i o n s of interest W.Va. (1975)). There that 178 right and the 2 subparagraph for a and, court in i t s Furthermore, nothing i n the Act requires a narrow tailoring of relief to the least r e s t r i c t i v e means of a d d r e s s i n g t h e S t a t e ' s i n t e r e s t ( e . g . , modes a n d d u r a t i o n o f visitation). 2 28 1090883 absence, the Act i s no element of a s t a t u t e statute m u s t be longer functional. W h e r e an i s declared unconstitutional, essential the entire rejected: "Under t h e s e w e l l - e s t a b l i s h e d p r i n c i p l e s , the j u d i c i a r y ' s s e v e r a b i l i t y power e x t e n d s o n l y t o t h o s e cases i n which the i n v a l i d p o r t i o n s are '"not so i n t e r t w i n e d w i t h the remaining p o r t i o n s that such r e m a i n i n g p o r t i o n s a r e r e n d e r e d m e a n i n g l e s s by t h e extirpation."' H a m i l t o n v . A u t a u g a C o u n t y , 289 A l a . 4 1 9 , 4 2 6 , 268 So. 2 d 3 0 , 36 ( 1 9 7 2 ) ( q u o t i n g A l l e n v . W a l k e r C o u n t y , 281 A l a . 1 5 6 , 1 62 , 199 So. 2d 854 , 860 (1967)). I f t h e y a r e so i n t e r t w i n e d , i t must '"be assumed t h a t the l e g i s l a t u r e would not have passed the enactment thus rendered meaningless."' Id. In s u c h a c a s e , t h e e n t i r e a c t must fall." State ex 1999). r e l . Jeffers Because, paragraph the -- Martin, absence i n the the Act 735 of cannot courts regarding v i s i t a t i o n entire Act The Civil unconstitutional grandparents Appeals Troxel, a (d) v. that the give 2d statute unconstitutionally or r e q u i r e 1159 sufficient proceedings, we to declare the therefore unenforceable. the d e c i s i o n the overbroad. The state of the Court of established in of grandparents t h e harm s t a n d a r d , b u t 29 -¬ guidance t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s Supreme C o u r t of (Ala. operative portion t h a t the Court i n T r o x e l d i d not a p p l y a analysis 1156, does not c o n s i d e r the parameters supra, i n which visitation argue argue and So. ruled Washington correctly strict-scrutiny required only that 1090883 " s p e c i a l w e i g h t " be g i v e n t o t h e d e t e r m i n a t i o n o f a f i t as t o what i s i n the best interests of the c h i l d . parent The Court stated: "[W]e do n o t c o n s i d e r t h e p r i m a r y constitutional q u e s t i o n p a s s e d on b y t h e W a s h i n g t o n S u p r e m e C o u r t -- w h e t h e r t h e Due P r o c e s s Clause requires a l l n o n p a r e n t a l v i s i t a t i o n s t a t u t e s t o i n c l u d e a showing of harm or p o t e n t i a l harm to the c h i l d as a c o n d i t i o n p r e c e d e n t t o g r a n t i n g v i s i t a t i o n . We do not, and need not, d e f i n e today t h e p r e c i s e scope o f t h e p a r e n t a l due p r o c e s s r i g h t i n t h e v i s i t a t i o n context." 530 U.S. a t 73-74. The C o u r t also stated: " I n an i d e a l w o r l d , p a r e n t s m i g h t a l w a y s s e e k t o c u l t i v a t e t h e bonds between g r a n d p a r e n t s and t h e i r grandchildren. Needless t o say, however, our w o r l d i s f a r from p e r f e c t , and i n i t t h e d e c i s i o n whether such an i n t e r g e n e r a t i o n a l relationship would be b e n e f i c i a l i n any s p e c i f i c case i s f o r t h e p a r e n t t o make i n t h e f i r s t i n s t a n c e . And, i f a f i t p a r e n t ' s d e c i s i o n o f t h e k i n d a t i s s u e h e r e becomes s u b j e c t t o j u d i c i a l r e v i e w , t h e c o u r t must a c c o r d a t l e a s t some special weight to the parent's own determination." Troxel, that i s lacking The about may 530 U.S. a t 7 0 . I t i s p r e c i s e l y that "special i n the A c t . constitutional issue presented i n this t h e h o l d i n g o f T r o x e l , however. I t i s about impinge weight" upon the fundamental parent to decide which associations 30 right of a case i s not when a s t a t e fit, are i n the best natural interests 1090883 of h i s or her right of custody, children. parents and Illinois, to make 405 U.S. 645, act i n the best 826 2 d a t 191 n.7 r e v e r s a l only) The State encroaching what on i s i n the grants no to there is a court limit to The Court must have the Act judicially to 530 U.S. v. U.S. 530 that operation right of 66 of or his a her the Act that f i t state interest, disputes "the correctly to e f f e c t best note instead between interests Appeals h e l d t h a t the Act challenge on this i f certain i t s application. 31 justify to decide The Act however, those the i n t e n t of the judgment child. right, that L.B.S., to parent to at 68). interest fundamental of at care, Stanley i s a presumption visitation imposed e.g., Troxel, compelling interests grandparents constitutional a best b a s e d o n l y on of C i v i l Troxel, fundamental the See, the i n t e r e s t s of t h e i r c h i l d r e n . ' " the decide interpret "'there fundamental concerning children. (1972)." (quoting compelling grandparents 651 the (Murdock, J . , c o n c u r r i n g i n the deference fails decisions Further, parents of have r e c o g n i z e d c o n t r o l of t h e i r (emphasis added). So. "[W]e and cases where requiring the parents and of the Court child." should legislature. The could withstand this requirements are We disagree. This 1090883 Court has previously discussed this issue of s t a t u t e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i t y by j u d i c i a l i m p o s i t i o n affording of a d d i t i o n a l requirements: "We are, of c o u r s e , aware of the elementary p r i n c i p l e t h a t , where the v a l i d i t y of a s t a t u t e i s assailed, and there are two possible i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s , b y one o f w h i c h t h e s t a t u t e w o u l d be u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l a n d b y t h e o t h e r i t w o u l d be v a l i d , the c o u r t s h o u l d adopt the c o n s t r u c t i o n which w o u l d u p h o l d i t . When t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i t y o f a s t a t u t e i s q u e s t i o n e d , i t i s the d u t y of the courts to adopt a construction that will bring i t in harmony w i t h the C o n s t i t u t i o n , i f i t s language w i l l permit, even though the construction which is a d o p t e d does not a p p e a r t o be as n a t u r a l as the other. State ex r e l . C o l l m a n v. Pitts, Probate J u d g e , 160 A l a . 1 3 3 , 49 So. 441 , 686, 135 Am. St. Rep. 79 [ ( 1 9 0 9 ) ] . There are, however, l i m i t a t i o n s to the a p p l i c a t i o n o f t h e s e p r i n c i p l e s , and the courts are not at l i b e r t y i n order to s u s t a i n a s t a t u t e to g i v e i t a f o r c e d c o n s t r u c t i o n or to r e a d i n t o i t a n d i n t e r p o l a t e w o r d s w h i c h do n o t a p p e a r i n t h e l a n g u a g e e n a c t e d by t h e L e g i s l a t u r e . 6 R.C.L. p. 79, § 77. " T h e r e i s a l s o an o b l i g a t o r y d u t y o f t h e c o u r t s , w h i c h are v e s t e d w i t h the power to pass upon the c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i t y of s t a t u t e s , to not o v e r l o o k or d i s r e g a r d c o n s t i t u t i o n a l demands, w h i c h the judges are s w o r n t o s u p p o r t , and therefore, when i t i s clear that a statute transgresses the authority v e s t e d i n t h e L e g i s l a t u r e by t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n , i t i s the duty of the courts to declare the act unconstitutional, and from t h i s duty they cannot s h i r k w i t h o u t v i o l a t i n g t h e i r oaths of o f f i c e . 6 R . C . L . p. 72, § 69." 32 a 1090883 McCall So. v. 695, Automatic Voting 697 (1938)(some Section judicial emphasis A l a . Const. 236 Ala. powers, that or states, in part, be. job ... To of to them." say apply This what the law w o u l d be the doctrine Co. v. utterly powers." "a court than 2d is inconsistent with DeKalb 270, County 276 should refrain (plurality LP Gas (Ala. 1998). necessary," (1984) has i s , not Suburban Although we opinion), v. Time, no Gas, Inc., recognize a parent's decisions regarding U.S. of Act defers grandparent that statute 4 68 the turn separation Inc., part say course, f r o m i n v a l i d a t i n g more o f t h e Regan to t h a t , of of and also 641, 652 to f u n d a m e n t a l r i g h t of the p a r e n t or to the p r e s u m p t i o n i n of "the a d i f f e r e n t p o l i c y would doing So. 180 that Court t h i s C o u r t i n t o a l e g i s l a t i v e b o d y , and 729 13, added). 1901, either " i t i s our what i t s h o u l d of 10, [department] s h a l l never e x e r c i s e the l e g i s l a t i v e executive stated 43, Mach. C o r p . , the favor visitation. Conclusion In summary, visitation in the the based Act. Act was The not the on trial the Court court awarded the grandparents b e s t - i n t e r e s t s - o f - t h e - c h i l d standard of Civil Appeals unconstitutional 33 on held that, although its face, i t was 1090883 unconstitutional as applied to the parents because g r a n d p a r e n t s were awarded v i s i t a t i o n w i t h o u t a showing to t h e c h i l d r e n caused by d e n y i n g t h e g r a n d p a r e n t s We, h o w e v e r , d e c l a r e because " t h e [ A ] c t c l e a r l y and u n m i s t a k a b l y A l a . 94 , rationale that 97 , 22 9 S o . 2 d of this relied on b y the Court this case, Court, albeit the Court presented of C i v i l we visitation. (1 9 6 9 ) . a different of C i v i l Bd. v. C r o s s , Because rationale Appeals, the than supports the A p p e a l s , we a f f i r m t h e j u d g m e n t Appeals. pretermit comes w i t h i n t h e Mobile Housing 4 8 5 , 487 judgment o f t h e Court o f C i v i l of o f harm the Act unconstitutional i n i t s entirety, i n h i b i t i o n of the c o n s t i t u t i o n . " 285 the Because of our r e s o l u t i o n of any d i s c u s s i o n of the other issues by t h e p a r t i e s . AFFIRMED. Woodall Parker Stuart, and Wise, J J . , * concur. and Murdock, Bolin, J J . , concur specially. a n d Shaw, J J . , c o n c u r Cobb, C . J . , and M a i n , i n the r e s u l t . J.,* dissent. * A l t h o u g h J u s t i c e M a i n a n d J u s t i c e W i s e w e r e n o t members o f t h i s C o u r t when t h i s c a s e was o r a l l y a r g u e d , t h e y h a v e viewed t h e v i d e o r e c o r d i n g of t h a t o r a l argument. 34 1090883 PARKER, J u s t i c e I (concurring concur specially to fundamental r i g h t of parents of their Troxel that children. upbringing with of t h e i r children. social first though been g i v e n structure the care and does n o t o r i g i n a t e for millennia, an of the family. together i n covenant As William before imperfect (17 65) . civil rudiments There was a u t h o r i t y over oppression. and order Nor Blackstone One God, and wrote, human "single n a t u r a l s o c i e t y , " becoming "the 1 William Blackstone, *47 prevent existed references f o r the p r i n c i p l e to direct right the and care o f a l l human i n s t i t u t i o n s . ... f o r m e d t h e f i r s t society." England i t has case of t h e c h i l d r e n God g a v e them, became t h e f i r s t structure. families (2000 ), This f a m i l y was t h e f i r s t with origin The f a m i l y p r e e x i s t e d t h e s t a t e . a n d o n e woman came they, the i n this right of the i n s t i t u t i o n I. man 57 a fundamental part The 530 U.S. however; on opinion have Troxel, integral write to direct the upbringing The m a i n v. G r a n v i l l e , parents specially). was civil or Commentaries no state: another, there i n the worship 35 of no o n t h e Law o f one p e r s o n to punish a political church evil to of the Creator. had and t o provide Both of 1090883 these necessary i n s t i t u t i o n s were p r e f i g u r e d but i n the d i s c i p l i n e the "sacred" App. The f a m i l y , legitimate The within (1911), like governing family i t s proper within the state sphere. v. Hughes, the family came and t h e c h u r c h , authority within i s a separate -- i n d e e d , they a n d w o r s h i p o f t h e f a m i l y -¬ r e l a t i o n s h i p s , Montgomery 2 4 5 , 58 S o . 113 II. w o u l d come l a t e r i t s own 4 Ala. first. i s a sphere. a n d l e g i t i m a t e human g o v e r n m e n t Like the state and t h e c h u r c h , i t p o s s e s s e s s u p r e m e a u t h o r i t y w i t h i n i t s own l e g i t i m a t e b o u n d s , with the rights higher As and authority." John Locke duties Ex p a r t e of i t s members Sullivan, ordained 407 S o . 2 d 559 by "a (1981). wrote: "But t h e s e two p o w e r s , p o l i t i c a l a n d p a t e r n a l , a r e so p e r f e c t l y d i s t i n c t a n d s e p a r a t e ; a r e b u i l t upon so d i f f e r e n t f o u n d a t i o n s , and g i v e n t o so d i f f e r e n t ends, t h a t e v e r y s u b j e c t t h a t i s a f a t h e r , has as much a p a t e r n a l p o w e r o v e r h i s c h i l d r e n , a s t h e p r i n c e has over h i s : and e v e r y p r i n c e , t h a t has parents, owes them as much filial duty and o b e d i e n c e , as t h e meanest o f h i s s u b j e c t s do t o t h e i r s ; and can t h e r e f o r e c o n t a i n n o t any p a r t o r degree of that kind of dominion, which a p r i n c e or m a g i s t r a t e has over h i s s u b j e c t . " John state Locke, Two Treatises o f Government are separate yet overlapping, authority of the other. 36 § 71. Family and and e a c h must r e s p e c t the 1090883 Abraham Kuyper, a famous D u t c h p o l i t i c a l writer, and theologian, not d e p e n d e n t on t h e s t a t e , b u t i n d e p e n d e n t o f i t , b e c a u s e i t came d i r e c t l y explained leader, t h a t t h e a u t h o r i t y o f t h e f a m i l y was f r o m God. "Behind these organic spheres, with intellectual, a e s t h e t i c a l and t e c h n i c a l s o v e r e i g n t y , t h e sphere o f the f a m i l y opens i t s e l f , w i t h i t s r i g h t o f m a r r i a g e , domestic peace, education and p o s s e s s i o n ; and i n t h i s sphere a l s o t h e n a t u r a l head i s conscious o f e x e r c i s i n g a n i n h e r e n t a u t h o r i t y , -- n o t b e c a u s e t h e g o v e r n m e n t a l l o w s i t , b u t b e c a u s e God h a s i m p o s e d it. Paternal authority roots i t s e l f i n the very life-blood and i s proclaimed in the fifth Commandment." Abraham Kuyper, Calvinism at The L.P. (Six Lectures Princeton), 123 Delivered (18 98 ) . interference with parental civil government: as a n a t i o n magistrates." III. which Kuyper, 1898-1899: Seminary on t o e q u a t e against state proper which abandons t o S t a t e ... i s j u s t a s g u i l t y before i t s hands upon t h e r i g h t s o f t h e a t 127. The f u n d a m e n t a l right our D e c l a r a t i o n endowed by o u r C r e a t o r went rights to rebellion lays for i n the Theological Kuyper of the family independently As Lectures "A p e o p l e t h e r e f o r e Supremacy t h e r i g h t God, Stone of parents of c i v i l existed before government. of Independence made with certain unalienable 37 and c l e a r , we " a r e Rights." Those 1090883 unalienable pursuit rights are not l i m i t e d of Happiness"; "implicit in Connecticut, the 302 to "Life, they include concept U.S. of 319, a l l those r i g h t s ordered 325 Liberty, liberty," (1937), and and t h e that are Palko are v. therefore p r o t e c t e d b y t h e N i n t h Amendment a n d t h e Due P r o c e s s C l a u s e o f t h e F o u r t e e n t h Amendment t o t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s C o n s t i t u t i o n . A s the Supreme parents the Court possess Curtis N.E. a fundamental Fourteenth governmental of Massachusetts Amendment, intrusion v. S c h o o l liberty to be free Comm. o f F a l m o u t h , 2 d 5 8 0 , 585 unnecessary their 420 M a s s . that p r o t e c t e d by from of agree children." 7 4 9 , 7 5 5 , 652 (1995). Constitution "We interest, i n the rearing The Alabama See A l a . C o n s t . independent; the that pursuit enumeration retained they encroachments everything of of c e r t a i n by provides similar protections. 1 9 0 1 , § 1 ("That a l l men a r e e q u a l l y a r e endowed certain inalienable rights; and has s a i d : by their f r e e and Creator t h a t among t h e s e a r e l i f e , happiness."), § 36 liberty ("That this shall n o t i m p a i r o r deny o t h e r s people; and, to on t h e r i g h t s herein the i n this rights and with Declaration 38 guard retained, against any we d e c l a r e that of Rights i s excepted out of 1090883 the general powers of government, and s h a l l forever remain inviolate."). The authority training of t h e i r of parents children to direct i s a the upbringing "principle and of j u s t i c e rooted i n the traditions and c o n s c i e n c e ranked as f u n d a m e n t a l . " S n y d e r v . Commonwealth o f M a s s . , 291 U.S. 9 7 , 105 (1934) (cited U.S. 7 0 2 , 720 ( 1 9 9 7 ) ) . of our people so i n Washington Those t r a d i t i o n s , as t o be v. Glucksberg, 521 i n c l u d i n g t h e common law i n h e r i t e d from B r i t a i n and e a r l y American law d e r i v e d from it, were r o o t e d that "[C]hristianity Blackstone, i n Christian i s part doctrine. o f t h e laws Commentaries *59 ( 1 7 2 6 ) . Blackstone of England." As J u s t i c e wrote 4 William Story said: "One o f t h e most b e a u t i f u l b o a s t s o f o u r m u n i c i p a l jurisprudence i s , that C h r i s t i a n i t y i s a part ofthe common l a w , f r o m w h i c h i t s e e k s s a n c t i o n o f i t s r i g h t s , and by which i t endeavors t o r e g u l a t e i t s doctrines. And, n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g the specious o b j e c t i o n o f one o f o u r d i s t i n g u i s h e d s t a t e s m e n , t h e b o a s t i s t r u e as i t i s b e a u t i f u l . There never has been a p e r i o d i n w h i c h t h e common l a w d i d n o t r e c o g n i s e C h r i s t i a n i t y as l y i n g a t i t s f o u n d a t i o n s . " Joseph Story, A Discourse the Author, Cooley, part a s Dane citing Professor Justice o f t h e common P r o n o u n c e d Upon t h e I n a u g u r a t i o n o f Story, o f L a w, 2 0 - 2 1 ( 1 8 2 9 ) . stated that law of the State 39 ... Thomas "Christianity i n this i sa qualified 1090883 sense, that i t s divine Thomas C o o l e y , 670 22 A Treatise (19 0 3 ) ( e m p h a s i s and t r u t h also "that i n o r i g i n a l ) (quoted i n Hudgins v. S t a t e , recognized [C]hristianity Goodrich, the influence i s a part regarded, birth their children's of the f i r s t gift child, t o p a r e n t s f r o m God stating of C h r i s t i a n i t y , that "children sense, Goree v. S t a t e , Christian doctrine This Court noting o f t h e common l a w , " G o o d r i c h v . i n a certain common l a w o f t h e l a n d . " directing (1928)). 44 A l a . 6 7 0 , 673 ( 1 8 7 0 ) , a n d t h a t justly The are admitted on t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n a l L i m i t a t i o n s , A l a . A p p . 4 0 3 , 4 0 4 , 116 S o . 3 0 6 , 307 has is origin emphasized growth "Christianity as a part ... of the 71 A l a . 7, 9 ( 1 8 8 1 ) . the role of parents i n and development. From t h e c h i l d r e n were r e c o g n i z e d as b e i n g a (Gen. 4:1, 2 5 ; s e e a l s o P s a l m are a g i f t o f t h e LORD" ). 3 127:3, Speaking t h r o u g h M o s e s , God i n s t r u c t e d c h i l d r e n t o h o n o r t h e i r parents ("Honor y o u r God h a s father commanded y o u , go well with their children shall that you All Standard y o u r d a y s may b e p r o l o n g e d a n d t h a t " Deut. 5:16), ("These w o r d s , w h i c h b e on y o u r 3 a n d y o u r m o t h e r , a s t h e LORD y o u r heart. Scripture Bible. 40 to teach I am c o m m a n d i n g y o u t o d a y , You s h a l l quotations and p a r e n t s i t may are teach from them d i l i g e n t l y t o t h e New American 1090883 your of sons " Deut. 6:6-7). parents Proverbs he their children's parents encouraged should to "[t]rain future, go, [e]ven when he i s o l d he w i l l 22:6. The A p o s t l e P a u l r e m i n d e d this provoke parental [their] responsibility, children discipline and i n s t r u c t i o n throughout Scripture, their God children i s used with His people gave the right emphasizing of the Lord." the r e l a t i o n s h i p as an a n a l o g y from the Ephesians them to "not t h e m up i n t h e Ephesians between 6:4. And parents and to the r e l a t i o n s h i p of ("But a s many a s r e c e i v e d H i m , t o t h e m He t o become the but bring of i n t h e way not depart instructing t o anger, concern t h e book up a c h i l d Proverbs it." of regarding B u i l d i n g on t h e n a t u r a l children significant and o f God " John permanent nature 1:12), of that relationship. In legal the century before American scholars discussed the rights parents i n their Grotius, often considered the founder law, affirmed 4 writings on the authority independence, prominent and r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s the law. For example, o f modern of parents of Hugo international t o make decisions S e e , e . g . , H a m i l t o n V r e e l a n d , J r . , Hugo G r o t i u s : The F a t h e r o f t h e M o d e r n S c i e n c e o f I n t e r n a t i o n a l Law ( 1 9 1 7 ) . 4 41 1090883 regarding their formed essential the an American own quest sort of r u l e that " a r i s e s from take care Puffendorf, and of 7 whose w o r k s , for the more children. part for of the liberty, jurisdiction that their a well duty stated that [their which is off-spring." known, Locke, intellectual over 6 of Hugo Grotius, The Rights of P r e l i m i n a r y D i s c o u r s e , 5 15 (1625). 5 on Similarly, German War a legal to von scholar foundation Blackstone, and a right them, Samuel a for have children]," William works "parents of Locke, p r o v i d e d writings whose foundation incumbent 17th-century along w i t h those famous John 5 8 Peace, noted The J o h n L o c k e , Two T r e a t i s e s o f G o v e r n m e n t §§ 5 5 , 58. Like S a m u e l v o n P u f f e n d o r f , L o c k e a l s o d i s c u s s e d t h e l i m i t a t i o n s on t h a t a u t h o r i t y a n d how i t m i g h t be f o r f e i t e d . 6 H i s name i s o f t e n a l s o s p e l l e d " P u f e n d o r f " ; however, b e c a u s e i t has p r e v i o u s l y been s p e l l e d " P u f f e n d o r f " i n t h e d e c i s i o n s o f t h i s C o u r t , we c o n t i n u e t o u s e t h a t spelling here. 7 S e e , e . g . , A l d e n v . M a i n e , 527 U.S. 706, 766-67 (1999) ( S o u t e r , J . , d i s s e n t i n g ) , c i t i n g B l a c k s t o n e , and n o t i n g h i s r e l i a n c e on P u f f e n d o r f and Locke. Indeed, i n Chisholm v. G e o r g i a , 2 U.S. (2 D a l l . ) 419 ( 1 7 9 3 ) , one of the earliest d e c i s i o n s o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s Supreme C o u r t , B l a c k s t o n e was q u o t e d as citing Puffendorf on the subject of sovereign i m m u n i t y . 2 U.S. (2 D a l l . ) a t 4 4 2 . P u f f e n d o r f ' s w r i t i n g s were a l s o d i r e c t l y c i t e d b e f o r e and by t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s Supreme Court i n the e a r l y days of our r e p u b l i c ; J u s t i c e Joseph S t o r y l i s t e d P u f f e n d o r f n e x t t o G r o t i u s a n d E m m e r i c h de V a t t e l a s l e g a l a u t h o r i t i e s ; s e e The N e r e i d e , 13 U.S. (9 C r a n c h ) 388, 437 (1815); see a l s o Brown v. U n i t e d S t a t e s , 12 U.S. (8 8 42 1090883 that "[f]rom marriage spring children, a u t h o r i t y has been e s t a b l i s h e d . " a lecturer influence and on the author whose development Finally, 9 works of over paternal Thomas R u t h e r f o r t h , were American whom noted law, 1 0 for their argued that C r a n c h ) 1 1 0 , 1 3 2 , 1 3 4 , 140 ( 1 8 1 4 ) ( S t o r y , J . , d i s s e n t i n g ) . He i s most f r e q u e n t l y c i t e d , however, b o t h i n the d e c i s i o n s of t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s Supreme C o u r t and this Court, for h i s i l l u s t r a t i o n f r o m B o l o g n i a n l a w o f how l e g a l p r i n c i p l e s s h o u l d n e v e r be i n t e r p r e t e d t o p r o d u c e an a b s u r d r e s u l t . See, e.g., Holy T r i n i t y Church v. U n i t e d S t a t e s , 143 U.S. 457 , 461 (18 92 ) ; L a s h v . S t a t e , 244 A l a . 4 8 , 5 2 , 14 So. 2d 2 2 9 , 231 (1943). For f u r t h e r d i s c u s s i o n of P u f f e n d o r f ' s i n f l u e n c e , see Bernard Baily, The Ideological Origins of the American R e v o l u t i o n , 43 ( 1 9 9 2 ) , n o t i n g t h a t P u f f e n d o r f ' s w r i t i n g s w e r e p u b l i s h e d i n c o n j u n c t i o n w i t h t h o s e o f L o c k e , Edward Coke, and G r o t i u s ; s e e a l s o Thomas C. G r a y , O r i g i n s o f t h e U n w r i t t e n Constitution: Fundamental Law i n American Revolutionary Thought, 30 Stan. L. Rev. 843, 860 (1 978) ("Except for G r o t i u s , the a u t h o r s of these p u b l i c law t r e a t i s e s are l i t t l e known a n d a l m o s t n e v e r r e a d t o d a y , b u t i n t h e 1 8 t h a n d e a r l y 19th centuries, the works of Pufendorf, [Jean Jacques] B u r l a m a q u i , V a t t e l and [Thomas] R u t h e r f o r t h h a d p r e s t i g e and i n f l u e n c e , and h e l p e d shape t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i d e a s o f t h e American colonists."). 2 S a m u e l v o n P u f f e n d o r f , On The D u t y o f Man a n d C i t i z e n ch. 3, 5 1 (1682) (Frank Gardner Moore, trans. 1925). Puffendorf went on to d i s c u s s the limitations on those p a r e n t a l r i g h t s a n d t h e c a s e s i n w h i c h t h e y m i g h t be f o r f e i t e d through misuse or abandoned to another. I d . a t 5 4, 7, 9. 9 S e e , e . g . , G a r y L. M c D o w e l l , The L i m i t s o f N a t u r a l Law: Thomas R u t h e r f o r t h a n d t h e A m e r i c a n L e g a l T r a d i t i o n , 3 7 Am. J . J u r i s . 5 7 , 58 ( 1 9 9 2 ) , n o t i n g t h a t R u t h e r f o r t h ' s " I n s t i t u t e s o f N a t u r a l Law was a w o r k w i d e l y r e a d a n d c i t e d among t h o s e o f t h e F o u n d i n g g e n e r a t i o n and o f t h e f i r s t g e n e r a t i o n u n d e r t h e 1 0 43 1090883 "since nature cannot parents without for discharge the given the bringing the supposed of such duty; a l l the child i t follows, i n a proper the of p a r e n t s . liability stated t h a t "[w]hat of of Kent, the parent; Commentaries IV. The continued to respect the ... f o r example, t h e r e m u s t be on A m e r i c a n fundamental 1 1 f o r the c h i l d before a t h i r d person ... for discussing f o r the c o n t r a c t s of t h e i r discretion duty necessary i s necessary which manner." law i s necessary can Law right the has C h a n c e l l o r Kent, of parents are to that nature authority, P o s t - r e v o l u t i o n a r y American rights to p r e s c r i b e a duty g r a n t i n g them t h e means, w h i c h parents up be is left a clear interfere *192-93 of parents children, to the omission " 2 James (1826). in American jurisprudence. The children right was of parents first Court i n Meyer v. Court concluded to direct addressed Nebraska, by 262 Thomas 1799). 11 ed. of the U.S. upbringing United 390 i n Meyer t h a t the r i g h t t h e i r c h i l d r e n taught languages Constitution the States (1923). The of their Supreme Supreme of the p a r e n t s to have o t h e r t h a n E n g l i s h was "within 1787." Rutherforth, Institutes 44 of N a t u r a l Law 166 (3d 1090883 the By liberty of the [Fourteenth] e n a c t i n g a law p r o h i b i t i n g amendment." 262 U.S. the t e a c h i n g of languages than E n g l i s h to c h i l d r e n before they graduated grade, the Nebraska interfere ... education of their the power own." 262 emergency ha[d] a r i s e n which of than other justify i t s inhibition rights long "constrained arbitrary the and w i t h o u t Court's decision (1925), child's which to f o r parents schools l i k e Citing Meyer, plain that also to a t 401. the 262 U.S. the public as Court was applied t o any end of [was] within a t 403. f o r the statute schools, t o choose as t o infringement the basis an e d u c a t i o n child harmful Supreme relation the Because " [ n ] o so c l e a r l y the statute formed control knowledge by a the consequent reasonable addressed private entirely from the e i g h t h i n P i e r c e v. S o c i e t y o f S i s t e r s , schooling impossible English of the s t a t e . " rights parents U.S. enjoyed," to conclude Parental of render[ed] with freely competency other " L e g i s l a t u r e ha[d] attempted m a t e r i a l l y to with some l a n g u a g e a t 400. to place Supreme 268 U.S. that thereby their 510 limited making a i t children i n t h e s c h o o l r u n by t h e S o c i e t y o f S i s t e r s . Supreme Court concluded t h a t the [law] unreasonably 45 that " i t [was] interfere[d] with 1090883 the liberty and education 534-35, of parents and g u a r d i a n s of children a n d was t h e r e f o r e The Illinois, rights of under to direct their the upbringing control," 268 U.S. a t unconstitutional. parents were reaffirmed i n Stanley v. 405 U.S. 6 4 5 , 651 ( 1 9 7 2 ) ( n o t i n g t h a t p a r e n t a l r i g h t s "undeniably warrant[] deference and, absent a powerful c o u n t e r v a i l i n g i n t e r e s t , p r o t e c t i o n " ) , and Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 7 4 5 , 753 ( 1 9 8 2 ) ( u p h o l d i n g interest of natural management o f t h e i r Wisconsin primarily grounds, parents in " [ t ] h e fundamental the care, liberty custody, and child"). v. Yoder, decided on 406 First a l s o made r e f e r e n c e U.S. 205 (1972), Amendment although religious-freedom to parental rights. Because of the Free E x e r c i s e Clause i n t h e F i r s t Amendment, as a p p l i e d t o the Fourteenth states by the compulsory-education Amish did The parents who, not send t h e i r Supreme religious Court freedom Amendment, Wisconsin's s t a t u t e could not c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l y i n keeping children also with religious to high school. noted and t h e i r their the overlap parental punish beliefs, 406 U.S. a t 2 3 5 . of the parents' rights: " [ T ] h i s case i n v o l v e s t h e fundamental interest of p a r e n t s , as c o n t r a s t e d w i t h t h a t o f t h e S t a t e , t o 46 1090883 guide the r e l i g i o u s f u t u r e and e d u c a t i o n o f t h e i r children. The history and culture of Western c i v i l i z a t i o n r e f l e c t a strong t r a d i t i o n of p a r e n t a l concern f o r t h e n u r t u r e and u p b r i n g i n g o f t h e i r children. This primary role of the parents i n the upbringing of t h e i r children i s now e s t a b l i s h e d b e y o n d d e b a t e a s an e n d u r i n g A m e r i c a n t r a d i t i o n . " 406 U.S. a t 232. Even b e f o r e the rights 245, child and he and P i e r c e , of parents. 2 4 7 , 58 "[t]he Meyer laws (1911), should later, this California several of h i s c h i l d , n o t have such Court cited Supreme Court, other cases this had r e c o g n i z e d unless care that to the care some g o o d c a u s e i s s h o w n why approvingly affirming wrote o f p a r e n t and i s entitled and c u s t o d y . " which 4 A l a . App. Court t e a c h us t h a t t h e r e l a t i o n i s s a c r e d " and t h a t " t h e p a r e n t custody Court I n Montgomery v. Hughes, So. 113, 113-14 of nature this a i n turn parental 1 2 Four decision quoted decades of the Pierce and rights: "'This i s i n l i n e with the p r i n c i p l e t h a t "The essence of custody i s the companionship of the c h i l d a n d t h e r i g h t t o make d e c i s i o n s r e g a r d i n g h i s c a r e and control, education, health, and religion", L e r n e r v . S u p e r i o r C o u r t , 38 C a l . 2 d 6 7 6 , 6 8 1 , 242 P.2d 3 2 1 , 323 [ ( 1 9 5 2 ) ] , a n d " I t i s c a r d i n a l w i t h u s that the custody, care and n u r t u r e o f t h e c h i l d A l t h o u g h t h i s c a s e was o r i g i n a l l y d e c i d e d b y t h e A l a b a m a S u p r e m e C o u r t , i t was r e a s s i g n e d t o t h e n e w l y c r e a t e d C o u r t o f A p p e a l s on r e h e a r i n g , a n d b o t h d e c i s i o n s w e r e r e p o r t e d a s a single case. 1 2 47 1090883 r e s i d e f i r s t i n t h e p a r e n t s , whose p r i m a r y f u n c t i o n and f r e e d o m i n c l u d e p r e p a r a t i o n f o r o b l i g a t i o n s t h e state can neither supply nor hinder. Pierce v. S o c i e t y o f S i s t e r s , 268 U.S. 510, 45 S . C t . 571, 69 L.Ed. 1070 [ ( 1 9 2 5 ) ] , s u p r a . And i t i s i n r e c o g n i t i o n of t h i s that these decisions have r e s p e c t e d the p r i v a t e realm of f a m i l y l i f e which the s t a t e cannot e n t e r " , P r i n c e v . [Com. o f ] M a s s a c h u s e t t s , 321 U.S. 158, 166, 64 S . C t . 438, 442, 88 L . E d . 645 [(1944)] ' " G r i g g s v. B a r n e s , 262 (quoting In P.2d 7 61 , Clinic, re 357, Guardianship 762 P.C., Ala. (Cal. 572 So. 363, of 1953)). 2d 1225, law deems p a r e n t a l care but a controlling, takes over So. Smith See 2d (Howes also 1227-28 right: fundamental 78 only of the will child from save i t s l i f e . ' " (quoting 59 Am. Jur. 2d a t 194 (1987))). As C o u r t s a i d i n Ex So. 559, authority should 563-64 ordains disturb circumstances State subject to the (1981): natural "The law parenthood, obligation, parents neglect P a r e n t and parte and a or Child § that is state Sullivan, recognizes r e l a t i o n s h i p thus 255 Vaughan where the parental this v. an the 2d rescue (1955) Cohen), R.J.D. except i n those extreme i n s t a n c e s to v. 91 6 ( A l a . 1 9 9 0 ) ( " T h e common f o r c h i l d r e n not The 910, to 48 407 a higher fallible judge established only where c o m p e l human i n t e r v e n t i o n . " action that strict limits scrutiny. a fundamental r i g h t Troxel, 48 530 U.S. at is generally 80 (Thomas, 1090883 J., concurring i n judgment); Clark (1988) are ("[C]lassifications given generally the most requires affecting exacting that U.S. 365, classification 375 (1971)("It interest fundamental The test right courts of t h i s fundamental r i g h t . and sporadically century during State i n American the growth, So. 447 rejected. means. Graham v. R i c h a r d s o n , enough See to say [ v . Thompson, that the 394 U.S. 618 s c r u t i n y under the c o m p e l l i n g i t impinged upon the respected this movement."). have not always A s t a t i s t philosophy that r e p r e s e n t e d an a b e r r a t i o n quickly interest, because of i n t e r s t a t e ... scrutiny i n Shapiro ... rights Strict is ( 1 9 6 9 ) , ] was s u b j e c t e d t o s t r i c t state fundamental 4 5 6 , 461 show a c o m p e l l i n g the state involved 486 U.S. scrutiny."). a d v a n c e d by t h e l e a s t r e s t r i c t i v e 403 v. J e t e r , jurisprudence worldwide, appeared briefly i n the e a r l y of n a t i o n a l 20th socialism f r o m o u r f o u n d i n g p r i n c i p l e s a n d was Burns v. S h a p l e y , 16 A l a . A p p . 297, (1917): "The t h e o r y u p o n w h i c h t h e c o u r t p r o c e e d s i n s u c h c a s e s i s t h a t t h e c u s t o d y and c o n t r o l o f t h e p a r e n t over h i s minor c h i l d r e n i s a t r u s t committed to him by t h e s t a t e , and t h i s t r u s t i s d o m i n a t e d by t h e supreme g u a r d i a n s h i p o f t h e s t a t e as p a r e n s p a t r i a e of a l l infants within i t s border, a n d when t h e parent abuses the t r u s t so as t o e n d a n g e r t h e w e l f a r e o f t h e c h i l d , i n s u c h s o r t as t o hamper o r 49 77 1090883 retard i t s development i n t o a good c i t i z e n , i n t e r e s t of s o c i e t y r e q u i r e s the s t a t e to a s s e r t supreme g u a r d i a n s h i p and p r o t e c t i t s w a r d . "It has been the its said: "'Minors are the wards of the nation, and even the control by the parent is subject to the unlimited supervisory c o n t r o l o f t h e s t a t e ' and t h a t 'the supreme r i g h t of the s t a t e to the g u a r d i a n s h i p of c h i l d r e n c o n t r o l s the n a t u r a l r i g h t s of the p a r e n t when t h e w e l f a r e o f s o c i e t y o r of the children themselves conflicts with parental rights.'" 16 Ala. App. at 299, 77 p h i l o s o p h y e x p r e s s e d by undermined the under philosophy, that So. at the 449 (citations omitted). C o u r t of A p p e a l s i n Burns relationship between rather than parents being and directly children; "ordained" "higher authority," S u l l i v a n , supra, that r e l a t i o n s h i p only as of this Court Court a in following V. creation in Griggs, Meyer interests state. supra, Pierce, and That view the United by supra, was decided by existed rejected States in a by Supreme the decade Burns. Misuse The and the The of the dissent of dissenting), the but best-interests-of-the-child in this case the best focus So. child." "would at interests 50 3d of standard. the best (Main, a on J., child normally 1090883 requires protecting parental rights. are protected, parental rights reveals that discharge 896 So. only the when parents [their parental] 423 (2004) 656 So. 2d exists rights.'" Ex Beasley, 564 The a remedy parte So. Alabama of-the-child notes, in a wide §§ 26-10A-24 and (e.g., the only § variety (Ala. the less drastic So. 950, 617 than -25, 2d at legal circumstances as are 423 the 51 ("the of 1995)). that whether of those Ex parte and dissent from by correctly courts adoption (e.g., (d), A l a . standard and the to j u v e n i l e standard Act"), best-interests- considered A l a . C o d e 1975) where App. (quoting the the situations, (a)(3), J.R., 1990)). Although, 12-15-101(a)(2), to, Dep't termination to uphold i t , misapply of Civ. V i s i t a t i o n Act interests State "'must d e t e r m i n e (Ala. best unwilling v. of evidence convincing evidence court best-interests-of-the-child in and 896 standard. a child's are 1235 i s "'clear Grandparent the d i s s e n t seeking or J.V. J.R., 2d termination convincing (quoting 1234, c h i l d i s dependent,'" there interests r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . ' " Ex p a r t e 416, after there and cannot, 2d Even then, p e r m i t t i n g the "'clear Res., Human the f o r e x a m p l e , by A c h i l d ' s best delinquency Code is properly does not 1975), applied conflict 1090883 with parental rights. Instead, i t i s a p p l i e d to competing c l a i m s of f i t p a r e n t s , or i f the p a r e n t s the claims of f i tpotential Where a court custody both the must are make an f i t , possessing best-interests-of-the-child determining which of the are the unfit, guardians. initial i n a d i v o r c e or p a t e r n i t y p r o c e e d i n g , parents weigh coequal standard f i t parents determination of f o r example, and fundamental guides should the receive rights, court in custody. "'Alabama law g i v e s n e i t h e r p a r e n t p r i o r i t y i n an i n i t i a l c u s t o d y d e t e r m i n a t i o n . Ex p a r t e C o u c h , 521 So. 2d 987 (Ala. 1988). The controlling c o n s i d e r a t i o n i n such a case i s the best i n t e r e s t of t h e c h i l d . ' E x p a r t e B y a r s , 794 So. 2d 3 4 5 , 347 (Ala. 2 0 0 1 ) . See a l s o G r a h a m v . G r a h a m , 640 So. 2 d 9 6 3 , 964 ( A l a . C i v . A p p . 1 9 9 4 ) ('In an a c t i o n b e t w e e n p a r e n t s s e e k i n g an i n i t i a l award of c u s t o d y , the p a r t i e s s t a n d on e q u a l f o o t i n g a n d no presumption i n u r e s t o e i t h e r p a r e n t . H a l l v . H a l l , 571 So. 2d 1176 ( A l a . C i v . App. 1990). The trial court's overriding c o n s i d e r a t i o n i s the c h i l d r e n ' s best i n t e r e s t s a n d w e l f a r e . S a n t m i e r v . S a n t m i e r , 494 So. 2 d 95 ( A l a . C i v . A p p . 1986).')." Ex parte C l a r k , 23 So. 3d 1107, 1116 (Ala. 2009). S i m i l a r l y , when t h e r i g h t s o f a d e p e n d a n t c h i l d ' s are t e r m i n a t e d , the b e s t - i n t e r e s t s courts to determine both parte parents are Beasley, who found 564 So. standard i s a p p l i e d by should receive custody, t o be 2d 950 unfit. (Ala. 52 As this 1990): parents but o n l y Court said the after in Ex 1090883 "In viewing the 'dependency' issue in the context of the S t a t e ' s attempt to t e r m i n a t e parental r i g h t s , the S t a t e w o u l d have s t a n d i n g only where both p a r e n t s are f o u n d t o be u n f i t or otherwise unable to discharge the responsibilities of parenthood. Therefore, a f i n d i n g of 'dependency' w o u l d be w a r r a n t e d , a n d t h e S t a t e w o u l d h a v e a d u t y to act in accordance with that child's best interest." 564 So. parental 2d at 954. r i g h t s no 1 3 Where longer both provide parents the court the b e s t - i n t e r e s t s - o f - t h e - c h i l d standard the claims The required of Act are any unfit, their guidance, applies to and balance competing p a r t i e s . ignores finding of the first unfitness step -- of and, the analysis instead, -- the treats a l l A l t h o u g h t h e a p p l i c a b l e s t a t u t e , § 1 2 - 1 5 - 3 1 9 , A l a . Code 1975, d o e s n o t use t h e t e r m " f i t , " i t n o n e t h e l e s s makes t h e u n f i t n e s s of the p a r e n t s a p r e l i m i n a r y requirement f o r the t e r m i n a t i o n of p a r e n t a l r i g h t s : 1 3 " I f t h e j u v e n i l e c o u r t f i n d s ... t h a t t h e p a r e n t s o f a c h i l d are u n a b l e or u n w i l l i n g to d i s c h a r g e their r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s t o and f o r t h e c h i l d , or t h a t the c o n d u c t or c o n d i t i o n of the p a r e n t s r e n d e r s them u n a b l e t o p r o p e r l y c a r e f o r t h e c h i l d and t h a t the conduct or c o n d i t i o n i s u n l i k e l y to change i n the foreseeable f u t u r e , i t may terminate the parental r i g h t s of the parents...." § 1 2 - 1 5 - 3 1 9 ( a ) . The s t a t u t e g o e s on t o l i s t f a c t o r s t h a t may be considered by t h e court, i n c l u d i n g abandonment, abuse, i l l n e s s , and c r i m i n a l a c t i v i t y . (Note t h a t u n d e r § 1 2 - 1 5 - 3 1 1 , A l a . Code 1975, a c h i l d may be d e c l a r e d " d e p e n d e n t , " as t h a t term i s d e f i n e d i n § 12-15-102, w i t h o u t t e r m i n a t i n g parental rights.) 53 1090883 parents as u n f i t visitation and p e r m i t s whenever the court i t believes that v i s i t a t i o n best interests the best-interests-of-the-child wishes thereby their of the c h i l d . of f i t parents discussed danger Once i n the main out standard child taken misapplied, partner against is of the parent's third the party and parents with unconstitutional, i t i s also context, been used the fraught with as the to best-interests-of-thejustify The b e s t - i n t e r e s t s f o r example, of t o use override of those only t o be i n t h e a court to of a grandparent consequences. results. custody not opinion; has inappropriate standard the r e l a t i o n s h i p This of unintended The A c t p e r m i t s at the request to undermine children. to grant or to grant wishes. with a Pennsylvania best interests" over the o b j e c t i o n of the n a t u r a l parent. awarding court custody used same-sex child 884 A . 2 d 915 the "child's to a third According party to the court: "Once i t i s e s t a b l i s h e d t h a t s o m e o n e who i s n o t t h e b i o l o g i c a l parent i s i n loco p a r e n t i s , that person does n o t need t o e s t a b l i s h that the b i o l o g i c a l p a r e n t i s u n f i t , b u t i n s t e a d must e s t a b l i s h by c l e a r 54 of has been parent's I n Jones v. Jones, Sup. C t . 2 0 0 5 ) , to j u s t i f y former the (Pa. variety standard a parent's visitation a 1090883 and convincing evidence t h a t i t i s i n the interests of the children to maintain r e l a t i o n s h i p o r be w i t h t h a t p e r s o n . " 8 84 A.2d ruled at t h a t a "de played a child," role determined over 177 the had the facto parent" the was -- a nonparent "entitled i n the best objections (2005). same o f L.B., The a finding the Supreme "acted i n c o n s i s t e n t l y parent-like o f u n f i t n e s s was v. Jarrell, Thus, even though parent [was] child," the court's decision nonparent. "this with unfit, North or not ha[d] Carolina to grant j o i n t Boseman, 704 55 122 Carolina parent's the the f i t 503, of appropriate. 505 (N.C. 2010). the natural neglected upheld Once the the to the parent 503. a was or Court child, application abandoned at the paramount p a r e n t a l i n which S.E.2d 708, because and custody of natural North a case Supreme parental 679, the 494, who same-sex p a r t n e r t o standard S.E.2d [was] that former any interests of Court party child's Court unnecessary, 704 to Wash. 2d w i t h her relationship Supreme third the conclusion, finding best-interests-of-the-child Boseman of 155 s t a t u s " by p e r m i t t i n g t h e p a r e n t ' s have Washington -- t o be In re Parentage 161, parent ... even parents. reached Similarly, parent-like privileges P.3d 917. best that the trial and the best- 1090883 i n t e r e s t s - o f - t h e - c h i l d standard from i t s proper taking p l a c e i n American j u r i s p r u d e n c e , i t can d r i f t , on a l i f e undesirable o f i t s own, results. leading to unintended and o f t e n 1 4 VI. T h e r e i s no e v i d e n c e a compelling i s c u t loose from i t s mooring, interest Conclusion. before u s t o show t h a t t h e S t a t e h a s i n granting visitation the objection of f i t parents may have i n maintaining or that i n t h i s case any i n t e r e s t grandparent-grandchild the an their an "unnecessary children," intrusion state cannot into governmental Curtis, intrusion The A c t i n the r e a r i n g of 420 M a s s . a t 7 5 5 , 652 N . E . 2 d a t 5 8 5 , "the p r i v a t e realm enter," State relationships c o u l d n o t b e a d v a n c e d b y some l e s s r e s t r i c t i v e m e a n s . is over Griggs, of family l i f e which the 262 A l a . a t 3 6 3 , 78 So. 2d a t The b e s t - i n t e r e s t s s t a n d a r d i s u r g e d by t h e U n i t e d N a t i o n s as a s t a n d - a l o n e s t a n d a r d t o be u s e d b y l e g i s l a t i v e bodies of n a t i o n a l governments. "In a l l actions concerning children, whether u n d e r t a k e n by p u b l i c o r p r i v a t e social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative a u t h o r i t i e s or l e g i s l a t i v e bodies, the best i n t e r e s t s of the c h i l d s h a l l be a p r i m a r y c o n s i d e r a t i o n . " Convention on t h e R i g h t s o f t h e C h i l d , N o v . 2 0 , 1 9 8 9 , a r t . 3, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3 ( e n t e r e d i n t o f o r c e S e p t . 2, 1 9 9 0 ) ( n o t r a t i f i e d b y t h e U n i t e d States). The U n i t e d N a t i o n s C o n v e n t i o n w o u l d t a k e t h e b e s t i n t e r e s t s - o f - t h e - c h i l d s t a n d a r d , used f o rd e c i s i o n - m a k i n g , and t u r n i t i n t o an i n d e p e n d e n t r i g h t o f t h e c h i l d t h a t w o u l d o f f s e t the fundamental r i g h t of parents. 1 4 56 1090883 916. Moreover, the Act creates a wholly interests-of-the-child parties violates to use the standard, against making f i t parents. fundamental right unconstitutional. 57 new use best- i t a weapon f o r t h i r d The of f o r the Act parents therefore and is 1090883 MURDOCK, J u s t i c e I believe this is has the Any the that case case the important i s at this Here, visitation. As manner we were to at issue -- its the custody any court custody as have of can a against the family, for be issue to analyze power of the override 58 called upon the i t -- and beyond the to right, especially i f with this the grandparent i s i n i t s own far family i s among concerns Ultimately, to this parent-child child ever issue ramifications nuclear family decide the i t i n a manner c o n s i s t e n t the nuclear we and this choose visitation. of How of core. important will nuclear ramifications family the analyze relationship the or i n w h i c h we grandparent integrity nuclear of members The society. reaching concerning consider. upon most i m p o r t a n t f o r Western farthest of relationship the i s the building block integrity most this specially). Court have ever been asked to d e c i d e . the case (concurring the the case statute issue pits of the parent-child government to f i t custodial intrude parents' 1090883 choices for their "village" that children, decides how and to take on the role our c h i l d r e n should of a be r a i s e d . I. I am a grandparent. I also note love of three a second remained It that, as a c h i l d , grandparents, mother t o me a vital i s with during grandchildren that I, like affirm the v i t a l should -- p l a y i n the l i v e s App. 2001) Alabama The to S e e R.S.C. visit Court of C i v i l question with throughout my role that members my life and childhood. and s p e c i a l of this grandparents of t h e i r 812 S o . 2 d 3 6 1 , 365 opinion do grandchildren, I authored Court -- and and v i c e (Ala. as a j u d g e Civ. on t h e Appeals). whether grandparents their of f o r the love the other v. J.B.C, (plurality parts like e x i s t between g r a n d p a r e n t s and t h e i r today, versa. early appreciation bonds t h a t can and s h o u l d t o know t h e o n e o f whom i n p a r t i c u l a r was i n f l u e n c e on me a deep I was b l e s s e d grandchildren, 59 should however, have a "right" i s often assumed 1090883 by the casual observer Upon initially being (including myself Civil Appeals) affirmatively grandparents (or confronted some 10 y e a r s are tempted based on with to respond thoughts of i t i s . many on t h e C o u r t o f reflexively the kind, however, house, often the question necessary, the physical with parents presented removal of than spend decide unsupervised concern about inability the might the that with when of t h e i r one their infant driving i n h e r home. daughter of the parents 60 with the from f i t that could above. son should h i s grandmother grandmother's t o manage s t a i r s visitation periods time described brief present. children be Parents children the use of f o r c e a n d t o do s o u n d e r c i r c u m s t a n c e s those loving i s whether custodial parents much d i f f e r e n t as and a n d on r e l a t i v e l y government has t h e power t o mandate, t h r o u g h if than issue, the ago as a j u d g e t o be as a d u l t s ) at grandmother's Ultimately, different we w e r e b l e s s e d t o h a v e i n o u r l i v e s are attempting visits t o be s o m e t h i n g because ability Parents c a n be present of a or might a grandfather not her limit to brief because of 1090883 concerns mental that the grandfather illness suspected he f a i l s child-abuse interaction with or refuses tendencies, the children there i s o b j e c t i v e evidence would be c o m p e t e n t Sometimes there suffers dementia to recognize, or because i s less of such i n a courtroom. i s only from than because of h i s manner kind. matters, of Sometimes evidence Sometimes a reasonable o r some there that i snot. s u s p i c i o n or a mother's intuition. Moreover, visits order at issue f o r a few hours visitation children from custodial here at grandmother's includes their i s not j u s t t h e power parents relationship with another What i s a t i s s u e h e r e government, t h e o b j e c t i o n or even caring parents, and over himself or h e r s e l f , removed from The p o w e r t o in a remove temporary f o r days or i s the a b i l i t y fears that the c h i l d of loving be of h i s or her parents 61 even of the any o b j e c t i o n o r f e a r s o f t h e t o mandate the presence afternoon physically them adult weeks a t a t i m e . over house. to and p l a c e Sunday and child physically and placed 1090883 u n s u p e r v i s e d w i t h another a d u l t , merely because the government decides " i ti s better Unless forfeited a parent the parent the parent doing so has way." b e e n deemed u n f i t custody of h i s or her c h i l d , that person, this wants what i s b e s t restricts the even a grandparent, and Admittedly, need not we live and relationship the p a r e n t has that reason fallen voluntarily the law r i g h t l y f o r the c h i l d child's defend in a o r has world. that, i f with a valid to the assumes reason A l l i s not w e l l get i t wrong. T h e n a g a i n , p a r e n t s do all the time. But get i t w r o n g , how 1 5 perfect. p a r e n t may can for government. The i f parents some that much m o r e In a d d i t i o n to l o o k i n g out f o r a c h i l d as t o whom v i s i t a t i o n m i g h t be s o u g h t , p a r e n t s a r e c a l l e d u p o n e v e r y d a y t o make d e c i s i o n s t h a t s i m u l t a n e o u s l y a f f e c t n o t j u s t a s i n g l e c h i l d , b u t s i b l i n g s o f t h a t c h i l d and t h e p a r e n t ' s s p o u s e . What i s b e s t f o r one c h i l d may n o t be b e s t f o r o t h e r s , o r i t may be s e r i o u s l y i n c o n v e n i e n t o r e v e n d e t r i m e n t a l f o r t h e f a m i l y as a w h o l e . A l s o , a p a r e n t must o f t e n w e i g h s h o r t - t e r m harm a g a i n s t l o n g - t e r m harm. Perhaps a s h o r t - t e r m a d v e r s i t y will work to b e n e f i t a child by d e v e l o p i n g a sense of s a c r i f i c e f o r the g r e a t e r good of the f a m i l y , or p a t i e n c e , or perseverance. Or p e r h a p s t h e s h o r t - t e r m h a r m o f h u r t f e e l i n g s w o u l d be b e t t e r t h a n a l o n g - t e r m w o u n d c a u s e d b y an a d v e r s a r y p r o c e e d i n g where the p a r e n t i s forced to openly disclose concerns about a grandparent. 1 5 62 1090883 so t h e g o v e r n m e n t ? I must power choose have the parents. to decide enforce what that decision allowed I As b e t w e e n f i t constitutional empowers over a not the government "best interest" the o b j e c t i o n of such this o r any like the that, to parents, we t o mandate, the p h y s i c a l removal and court one achieve of a c h i l d the and t o assume a f r i g h t e n i n g s e e how statute and t h e government, allow i s in a child's the government necessary, I f we the government a b s o l u t e l y do parents power. 1 6 can hold before us, by force i f from h i s or her f i t c u s t o d i a l mother and f a t h e r and t h e p h y s i c a l p l a c e m e n t o f t h a t child, even objections temporarily, of that with child's some parents government d i f f e r s w i t h the p a r e n t s child's best interests. To other person, merely over the because the a s t o w h a t w o u l d be i n t h e empower the government in this Of c o u r s e , d e s p i t e the w e l l founded presumption that p a r e n t a l d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g i s m o t i v a t e d by t h e b e s t i n t e r e s t s o f the c h i l d , not e v e r y p a r e n t a l d e c i s i o n meets t h i s s t a n d a r d . The thought of empowering the government to explore and evaluate the s u b j e c t i v e motivations of parents and their d e c i s i o n s , h o w e v e r , i s e v e n more a l a r m i n g t h a n t h e t h o u g h t o f empowering the government to second-guess the e f f e c t s of parental decisions. 1 6 63 1090883 m a n n e r w o u l d be of every mother child and t o make t h e g o v e r n m e n t i n t o in i t s jurisdiction father of their and God-given the "over parent" to deprive the child's role. II. The Process United Clause States of the Supreme Court United States has held that the Constitution "guarantees more than f a i r p r o c e s s , and the ' l i b e r t y ' i t p r o t e c t s i n c l u d e s more t h a n t h e a b s e n c e of p h y s i c a l r e s t r a i n t . The C l a u s e a l s o p r o v i d e s heightened protection against government interference with certain fundamental rights and liberty interests. R e n o v . F l o r e s , 507 U.S. 292, 301-302 (1993); [ P l a n n e d P a r e n t h o o d o f S o u t h e a s t e r n P a . v . ] C a s e y , 505 U.S. [ 8 3 3 , ] 851 [ ( 1 9 9 2 ) ] . In a l o n g l i n e o f c a s e s , we h a v e h e l d t h a t , i n a d d i t i o n t o t h e s p e c i f i c freedoms p r o t e c t e d by t h e B i l l of R i g h t s , t h e ' l i b e r t y ' s p e c i a l l y p r o t e c t e d b y t h e Due Process Clause i n c l u d e s the rights ... to have c h i l d r e n , S k i n n e r v. O k l a h o m a ex r e l . W i l l i a m s o n , 316 U.S. 535 ( 1 9 4 2 ) , [and] t o d i r e c t t h e e d u c a t i o n and u p b r i n g i n g o f one's c h i l d r e n , Meyer v. N e b r a s k a , 262 U.S. 390 ( 1 9 2 3 ) ; P i e r c e v. S o c i e t y o f S i s t e r s , 268 U.S. 510 ( 1 9 2 5 ) .... fi "... [W]e h a v e r e g u l a r l y o b s e r v e d t h a t t h e Due Process Clause s p e c i a l l y p r o t e c t s those fundamental r i g h t s and l i b e r t i e s w h i c h a r e , o b j e c t i v e l y , ' d e e p l y rooted in this Nation's history and tradition,' [Moore v. East Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494,] 503 [(1977)] (plurality opinion); Snyder 64 Due 1090883 M a s s a c h u s e t t s , 2 9 1 U.S. 9 7 , 105 ( 1 9 3 4 ) ('so r o o t e d i n t h e t r a d i t i o n s and c o n s c i e n c e o f o u r p e o p l e as t o be r a n k e d a s f u n d a m e n t a l ' ) , and ' i m p l i c i t i n t h e concept of ordered liberty,' such that 'neither liberty nor j u s t i c e would exist i f they were sacrificed,' P a l k o v . C o n n e c t i c u t , 302 U.S. 3 1 9 , 3 2 5 , 326 ( 1 9 3 7 ) . ... Our N a t i o n ' s h i s t o r y , legal t r a d i t i o n s , and p r a c t i c e s thus p r o v i d e t h e c r u c i a l 'guideposts for responsible decision making,' Collins [v. Harker Heights, 503 U.S. 1 1 5 , ] 125 [ ( 1 9 9 2 ) ] , t h a t d i r e c t and r e s t r a i n our e x p o s i t i o n o f t h e Due P r o c e s s C l a u s e . A s we s t a t e d r e c e n t l y i n Flores, the Fourteenth Amendment 'forbids the government t o i n f r i n g e ... " f u n d a m e n t a l " liberty interests at a l l , no matter what process i s provided, unless the infringement i s narrowly t a i l o r e d to serve a compelling state i n t e r e s t . ' 507 U.S., a t 3 0 2 . " Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 719-20 (1997)(some c i t a t i o n s a n d some e m p h a s i s o m i t t e d ; e m p h a s i s a d d e d ) ; Smith v. Reform, 431 'private that Organization realm has been protection." 166 (1944) explained liberty U.S. of 816, of family Foster 842 life afforded Families (1 977) which both for Equality ("There the state substantive does omitted))). i n Meyer v. Nebraska, guaranteed and the Amendment & a enter,' procedural 321 U.S. 1 5 8 , Supreme 262 U.S. 3 9 0 , 399 by t h e F o u r t e e n t h 65 As exist cannot ( q u o t i n g P r i n c e v. M a s s a c h u s e t t s , (footnotes see a l s o Court (1923), the "denotes not 1090883 merely freedom from b o d i l y r e s t r a i n t b u t a l s o t h e r i g h t oft h e individual children, ... recognized and generally by f r e e Although to establish to the United States up to the dictates of his own those and privileges Supreme Court's as a plurality decision, a the State's visitation over the objection implicated the fundamental (Kennedy, opinions: custodial without nurture, parent undue has a pursuit t o impose ("[T]here grandparent i n that by t h e s t a t e , 66 to how b e s t The p a r e n t a l point i n our developed, right case 530 U.S. a t agreement law has constitutional and educate t h e c h i l d . Justices i s a beginning unanimous, case referred the r i g h t of the parent. our interference of of the parent perhaps As majority attempt J . , dissenting) commands g e n e r a l , separate long decision i n v . G r a n v i l l e , 530 U.S. 57 ( 2 0 0 0 ) , i s g e n e r a l l y that that home men." recognized 95 bring enjoy a a t common l a w a s e s s e n t i a l t o t h e o r d e r l y happiness Troxel marry, t o w o r s h i p God a c c o r d i n g conscience, of to the determine, to raise, r i g h t stems from 1090883 the liberty Fourteenth It protected by Amendment."). cannot the Due Process that § 30-3-4.1, A l a . infringes on t h e a b i l i t y the care, custody, and c o n t r o l o f t h e i r the main opinion reflects, applies. interest and must also flowing therefrom are compelling Troxel, state 530 judgment). The of parents a State show at must narrowly show children. a fails Thus, as compelling state and any to See G l u c k s b e r g , (Thomas, as t o "strict-scrutiny" tailored 80 Code 1 9 7 5 , decisions § 30-3-4.1 30-3-4.1 Section t o make so-called that interest. U.S. of the 1 7 be d i s p u t e d analysis Clause remedy address supra; see a l s o J . , concurring as t o b o t h that i n the elements. The d i s s e n t c o r r e c t l y n o t e s t h a t T r o x e l d i d n o t h o l d a showing o f "harm" authorizing courts keep i n mind plurality two was a necessary to order things, made c l e a r , component grandparent however. the Troxel Court of a visitation. First, simply as statute We the 67 must Troxel d i dnot f i n d i t S i m i l a r l y , a l l t h e J u s t i c e s on t h e A l a b a m a Supreme recognize today the fundamental nature of the parents' to t h e c a r e , custody, and c o n t r o l o f t h e i r c h i l d r e n . 1 7 that Court right 1090883 necessary what to reach t h i s that Court expressed, not was enough. i s s u e i n the case clearly that Yet, a i f we Code visitation 1975, by § reach, showing uphold t h a t i s e x a c t l y what t h i s Ala. did merely ("[T]he the grandparent and of i t . what "best Second, i t clearly interests" the Alabama s t a t u t e b e f o r e Court w i l l 30-3-4.1 before be us, s a y i n g i s enough. court shall i s i n the best See determine interests is of i f the child."). Statements cannot in Troxel override State of their nature based the " b e s t - i n t e r e s t " standard begin w i t h the Court's r e c o g n i t i o n critical decision that a to f i t parent's i t clear on the a b s o l u t e l y a t h a t make of p a r e n t s ' r i g h t s merely in relation children: "The F o u r t e e n t h A m e n d m e n t p r o v i d e s t h a t no S t a t e shall ' d e p r i v e any person of life, liberty, or p r o p e r t y , w i t h o u t due p r o c e s s o f l a w . ' We h a v e l o n g r e c o g n i z e d t h a t t h e A m e n d m e n t ' s Due P r o c e s s C l a u s e , l i k e i t s F i f t h Amendment c o u n t e r p a r t , 'guarantees more t h a n f a i r p r o c e s s . ' W a s h i n g t o n v. G l u c k s b e r g , 521 U.S. 7 0 2 , 719 ( 1 9 9 7 ) . The C l a u s e a l s o i n c l u d e s a s u b s t a n t i v e component t h a t ' p r o v i d e s h e i g h t e n e d protection against government interference with c e r t a i n f u n d a m e n t a l r i g h t s and l i b e r t y interests.' Id., a t 7 2 0 ; s e e a l s o R e n o v . F l o r e s , 507 U.S. 292, 301-302 (1993). 68 1090883 "The l i b e r t y i n t e r e s t a t i s s u e i n t h i s c a s e -¬ the i n t e r e s t o f p a r e n t s i n t h e c a r e , custody, and c o n t r o l o f t h e i r c h i l d r e n -- i s p e r h a p s t h e o l d e s t of t h e fundamental l i b e r t y i n t e r e s t s r e c o g n i z e d by t h i s Court. M o r e t h a n 75 y e a r s a g o , i n M e y e r v . N e b r a s k a , 262 U.S. 3 9 0 , 3 9 9 , 4 0 1 (1 9 2 3 ) , we h e l d that the 'liberty' p r o t e c t e d b y t h e Due Process Clause includes the r i g h t of parents to ' e s t a b l i s h a home a n d b r i n g u p c h i l d r e n ' a n d ' t o c o n t r o l t h e e d u c a t i o n o f t h e i r own.' Two y e a r s l a t e r , i n P i e r c e v . S o c i e t y o f S i s t e r s , 268 U.S. 5 1 0 , 5 3 4 - 5 3 5 ( 1 9 2 5 ) , o f p a r e n t s and we a g a i n h e l d t h a t t h e ' l i b e r t y guardians' includes the right 'to d i r e c t the u p b r i n g i n g and e d u c a t i o n o f c h i l d r e n under their control.' We e x p l a i n e d i n P i e r c e t h a t ' [ t ] h e c h i l d i s n o t t h e m e r e c r e a t u r e o f t h e S t a t e ; t h o s e who n u r t u r e h i m and d i r e c t h i s d e s t i n y have t h e r i g h t , coupled w i t h t h e h i g h duty, t o r e c o g n i z e and prepare him f o r a d d i t i o n a l o b l i g a t i o n s . ' I d . , a t 5 3 5 . We r e t u r n e d t o t h e s u b j e c t i n P r i n c e v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 ( 1 9 4 4 ) , a n d a g a i n c o n f i r m e d t h a t t h e r e is a constitutional dimension to the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children. ' I t i s c a r d i n a l w i t h us t h a t t h e c u s t o d y , c a r e and nurture of the c h i l d reside f i r s t i n the parents, whose primary function and freedom include p r e p a r a t i o n f o r o b l i g a t i o n s the s t a t e can n e i t h e r supply nor hinder.' I d . , a t 166. "In s u b s e q u e n t c a s e s a l s o , we h a v e r e c o g n i z e d t h e f u n d a m e n t a l r i g h t o f p a r e n t s t o make d e c i s i o n s c o n c e r n i n g t h e c a r e , custody, and c o n t r o l o f t h e i r c h i l d r e n . S e e , e . g . , S t a n l e y v . I l l i n o i s , 405 U.S. 6 4 5 , 651 ( 1 9 7 2 ) ( ' I t i s p l a i n t h a t t h e i n t e r e s t o f a parent i n t h e companionship, c a r e , custody, and management o f h i s o r h e r c h i l d r e n "come[s] t o t h i s Court with a momentum f o r r e s p e c t lacking when 69 1090883 a p p e a l i s made t o l i b e r t i e s w h i c h d e r i v e m e r e l y f r o m shifting economic arrangements"' (citation o m i t t e d ) ) ; W i s c o n s i n v . Y o d e r , 406 U.S. 205, 232 (1972) ('The history and culture of Western c i v i l i z a t i o n r e f l e c t a s t r o n g t r a d i t i o n of p a r e n t a l concern f o r the nurture and upbringing of their c h i l d r e n . This p r i m a r y r o l e of the parents i n the upbringing of their c h i l d r e n i s now established b e y o n d d e b a t e as an e n d u r i n g A m e r i c a n t r a d i t i o n ' ) ; Q u i l l o i n v. W a l c o t t , 434 U.S. 2 4 6 , 255 (1978) ('We have recognized on numerous occasions that the relationship between parent and child is c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l y p r o t e c t e d ' ) ; P a r h a m v . J.R., 442 U.S. 584, 602 (1979) ('Our jurisprudence historically has r e f l e c t e d Western civilization c o n c e p t s o f t h e f a m i l y as a u n i t w i t h b r o a d p a r e n t a l authority over minor children. Our cases have consistently followed that course'); Santosky v. K r a m e r , 455 U.S. 7 4 5 , 753 (1982) ( d i s c u s s i n g ' [ t ] h e f u n d a m e n t a l l i b e r t y i n t e r e s t of n a t u r a l p a r e n t s in t h e c a r e , c u s t o d y , and management o f t h e i r c h i l d ' ) ; Glucksberg, s u p r a , a t 720 ('In a l o n g l i n e o f c a s e s , we have h e l d that, i n a d d i t i o n to the specific freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights, the "liberty" s p e c i a l l y p r o t e c t e d by the Due Process Clause includes the righ[t] ... to direct the e d u c a t i o n and u p b r i n g i n g o f one's c h i l d r e n ' ( c i t i n g M e y e r and Pierce)). In l i g h t of t h i s extensive p r e c e d e n t , i t c a n n o t now be d o u b t e d t h a t t h e Due P r o c e s s C l a u s e o f t h e F o u r t e e n t h Amendment p r o t e c t s t h e f u n d a m e n t a l r i g h t o f p a r e n t s t o make d e c i s i o n s concerning t h e c a r e , c u s t o d y , and c o n t r o l o f t h e i r children." 530 U.S. at 65-66 (emphasis added). The Troxel makes c l e a r t h a t t h e g o v e r n m e n t c a n n o t o v e r r i d e 70 Court then a f i t parent's 1090883 choices thinks what f o r h i s or her i t can i s i n the make a children merely "better decision" child's "best because the than the government parent as interests": " S e c t i o n 2 6 . 1 0 . 1 6 0 ( 3 ) , as a p p l i e d t o G r a n v i l l e and her family in this case, unconstitutionally i n f r i n g e s on t h a t f u n d a m e n t a l p a r e n t a l r i g h t . The Washington nonparental visitation statute is b r e a t h t a k i n g l y broad. A c c o r d i n g to the s t a t u t e ' s text, '[a]ny person may petition the court for v i s i t a t i o n r i g h t s a t any t i m e , ' and t h e c o u r t may g r a n t such v i s i t a t i o n r i g h t s whenever 'visitation may serve the best interest of the child.' § 26.10.160(3) (emphases added [ i n T r o x e l ] ) . That l a n g u a g e e f f e c t i v e l y p e r m i t s any t h i r d p a r t y s e e k i n g visitation t o s u b j e c t any decision by a parent c o n c e r n i n g v i s i t a t i o n of the p a r e n t ' s c h i l d r e n to state-court review. Once t h e v i s i t a t i o n petition has been f i l e d i n c o u r t and t h e m a t t e r i s p l a c e d before a judge, a parent's d e c i s i o n that v i s i t a t i o n would not be i n the child's best interest is accorded no deference. Section 26.10.160(3) c o n t a i n s no requirement that a court accord the p a r e n t ' s d e c i s i o n any p r e s u m p t i o n o f v a l i d i t y o r any weight whatsoever. I n s t e a d , the Washington s t a t u t e p l a c e s the b e s t - i n t e r e s t d e t e r m i n a t i o n s o l e l y i n the hands of the judge. Should the judge d i s a g r e e w i t h the parent's estimation of the child's best i n t e r e s t s , the judge's view n e c e s s a r i l y prevails. Thus, in practical effect, in the State of W a s h i n g t o n a c o u r t can d i s r e g a r d and o v e r t u r n any decision by a f i t custodial parent concerning v i s i t a t i o n whenever a t h i r d p a r t y a f f e c t e d by the d e c i s i o n f i l e s a v i s i t a t i o n p e t i t i o n , based s o l e l y on t h e j u d g e ' s d e t e r m i n a t i o n of the c h i l d ' s best interests. The W a s h i n g t o n S u p r e m e C o u r t h a d the 71 to 1090883 opportunity to give § 26.10.160(3) a narrower r e a d i n g , b u t i t d e c l i n e d t o do s o . S e e , e . g . , 137 Wash. 2 d , a t 5, 969 P . 2 d , a t 23 ('[The s t a t u t e ] a l l o w [ s ] any p e r s o n , a t any t i m e , t o p e t i t i o n f o r v i s i t a t i o n without regard to relationship to the c h i l d , w i t h o u t r e g a r d t o changed c i r c u m s t a n c e s , and w i t h o u t r e g a r d t o h a r m ' ) ; i d . , a t 2 0 , 969 P . 2 d , a t 30 ('[The s t a t u t e ] a l l o w [ s ] " a n y p e r s o n " t o p e t i t i o n f o r f o r c e d v i s i t a t i o n o f a c h i l d a t "any t i m e " w i t h the o n l y requirement being t h a t the v i s i t a t i o n serve the best i n t e r e s t of the c h i l d ' ) . "... Accordingly, so long as a parent adequately cares f o r h i s or her c h i l d r e n ( i . e . ,i s f i t ) , t h e r e w i l l n o r m a l l y b e no r e a s o n f o r t h e S t a t e to inject itself into the private realm of the family to further question the a b i l i t y of that p a r e n t t o make t h e b e s t d e c i s i o n s c o n c e r n i n g t h e rearing of that parent's children. S e e , e . g . , [Reno v . ] F l o r e s , 507 U.S. [ 2 9 2 ] , a t 304 [ ( 1 9 9 3 ) ] . "... A s we h a v e e x p l a i n e d , t h e Due P r o c e s s C l a u s e d o e s n o t p e r m i t a S t a t e t o i n f r i n g e on t h e f u n d a m e n t a l r i g h t o f p a r e n t s t o make c h i l d r e a r i n g d e c i s i o n s simply because a s t a t e judge b e l i e v e s a 'better' decision c o u l d b e made. Neither the Washington nonparental v i s i t a t i o n s t a t u t e g e n e r a l l y -- w h i c h p l a c e s no l i m i t s on e i t h e r t h e p e r s o n s who may p e t i t i o n f o r v i s i t a t i o n o r t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s i n w h i c h s u c h a p e t i t i o n may b e g r a n t e d -- n o r t h e Superior Court i n this specific case required anything more. Accordingly, we hold that § 2 6.10.160(3), as applied i n this case, i s unconstitutional." 72 1090883 Troxel, 530 emphasis added). As U.S. at 65-73 (some J u s t i c e Thomas e x p l a i n e d emphasis omitted; i n h i s concurring some opinion i n Troxel: "I agree with the p l u r a l i t y that this Court's recognition of a fundamental r i g h t of parents to direct the upbringing of t h e i r children resolves t h i s case. Our d e c i s i o n i n P i e r c e v. S o c i e t y o f S i s t e r s , 268 U.S. 510 ( 1 9 2 5 ) , h o l d s t h a t parents have a f u n d a m e n t a l c o n s t i t u t i o n a l r i g h t t o r e a r t h e i r c h i l d r e n , i n c l u d i n g t h e r i g h t t o d e t e r m i n e who s h a l l e d u c a t e and s o c i a l i z e them. The o p i n i o n s o f t h e p l u r a l i t y , J u s t i c e KENNEDY, a n d J u s t i c e SOUTER recognize s u c h a r i g h t , b u t c u r i o u s l y none o f them a r t i c u l a t e s the appropriate standard of review. I would apply strict scrutiny to infringements of fundamental r i g h t s . Here, the State of Washington l a c k s e v e n a l e g i t i m a t e g o v e r n m e n t a l i n t e r e s t -- t o say nothing of a compelling o n e -- i n s e c o n d guessing a f i t parent's decision regarding v i s i t a t i o n with t h i r d p a r t i e s . On t h i s b a s i s , I would a f f i r m t h e judgment below." Troxel, 530 judgment) It not U.S. at (emphasis i s clear their children's (Thomas, J . , concurring i n the added). from free to override 80 these passages the choice associations t h e government i s o f f i t c u s t o d i a l p a r e n t s as t o merely 73 that because the government 1090883 thinks i tcan reach a "better decision" than the children's parents. "'Among t h o s e i n t e r e s t s l y i n g a t t h e c o r e o f parents' r i g h t s t o r a i s e a n d c a r e f o r t h e i r own children i s the right to control their children's companions and a s s o c i a t i o n s . ' R.S.C. v . J . B . C . , 812 So. 2 d 3 6 1 , 368 ( A l a . C i v . A p p . 2 0 0 1 ) . As n o t e d i n J . S . v . D.W., 835 S o . 2 d 174 , 182 ( A l a . C i v . A p p . 2001), reversed o n o t h e r g r o u n d s , 8 3 5 S o . 2 d 186 ( A l a . 2 0 0 2 ) , ' [ t ] h e common l a w r e c o g n i z e d t h e r i g h t o f p a r e n t s t o d e t e r m i n e w i t h whom t h e i r c h i l d w o u l d associate.' S e e a l s o M.L.B. v . S . L . J . , 5 1 9 U.S. 102, 116 ( 1 9 9 6 ) ( ' [ c ] h o i c e s about marriage, family life, and t h e u p b r i n g i n g of children a r e among a s s o c i a t i o n a l r i g h t s t h i s C o u r t has r a n k e d as " o f basic importance i n our society," ... rights s h e l t e r e d b y t h e F o u r t e e n t h Amendment a g a i n s t t h e State's unwarranted usurpation, disregard, or d i s r e s p e c t ' ) ; H o f f v . B e r g , 5 9 5 N.W.2d 2 8 5 (N.D. 1999) (holding North Dakota's g r a n d p a r e n t - v i s i t a t i o n statute unconstitutional on t h e g r o u n d that i t burdened the parents' fundamental r i g h t t o c o n t r o l their children's associations)." McQuinn v. McQuinn, 866 S o . 2 d 5 7 0 , 5 7 9 ( A l a . C i v . A p p . 2 0 0 3 ) (Murdock, J . , c o n c u r r i n g part, and d i s s e n t i n g As Justice a "compelling concurring i n the result i n i n part). Thomas analysis applies i npart, noted i n Troxel, a "strict-scrutiny" when a f u n d a m e n t a l r i g h t i s a t i s s u e i n t e r e s t " of the state 74 justifies and only governmental 1090883 interference a with "compelling such right. interest" that The n o t i o n empowers interests" of c h i l d r e n i s l o g i c a l l y notion a of protected parents God-given by t h e U n i t e d the protected beyond parent-child status the child's Constitution child's under no grandparents, neighbors, cousins, etc. decision Constitution. I f we f o r that with principled relationship with h i s or older that a interest, her a Once the specially one moves parent, aunts the between grandparents, the state f i t parent of children. distinction siblings, decide of the C o n s t i t u t i o n , i n the right relationship provides "best with liberty r e l a t i o n s h i p holds the the irreconcilable unalienable States t h e s t a t e has i t to decide to c o n t r o l the associations of t h e i r Only its and that and a greatuncles, can s u b s t i t u t e with respect to a c h i l d ' s v i s i t a t i o n with a grandparent merely because the s t a t e thinks i t i s i n the best so, then there the same " b e s t i s nothing i n t e r e s t s of the c h i l d that prevents f o r i t t o do the state from using i n t e r e s t s " b a s i s t o s u b s t i t u t e i t s judgment f o r that of a f i t parent as t o t h e i s s u e o f t h e c h i l d ' s 75 visitation 1090883 with any other matter, after be relative, i f the the state "best or has a interests" even "compelling For interest" of c h i l d r e n , t h e r e i t s judgment whether medical c a r e , w h e t h e r t o s i g n up to the enroll child i t him to appropriate be for that issue, or the new ever As issue be in that looking w o u l d no longer diet, etc. I f the informed to any decisions as to soccer whether friends, their on w h a t p r i n c i p l e d b a s i s to what government by t h e p a r e n t s ' c o n t r o l of fact harm, t h a t the the dissent grandparent visitation be and as f o r the lessons, with from to child night requirement order schools, the in violin a f i t parent from team allow is an can cross fundamental right c h i l d r e n , i n what could any different drawn? to the of of of the custody, l o c a t i o n and line her bedtime, care, choice spend the l i n e h e r e t o f o r e to nonrelative. a c o n s t i t u t i o n a l b a s i s on w h i c h t o r e s t r a i n g o v e r n m e n t substituting or a the T r o x e l d e c i s i o n d i d not takes United act constitutional, the position that, States must "and 76 reach Supreme include in the a Court the absent a that a harm standard face of in existing 1090883 precedent I So. from t h i s Court and from t h e Court o f C i v i l s e e no n e e d 3d at to declare (Main, disagree. There the Act unconstitutional." J., dissenting). always i s a this unconstitutional i f unconstitutional, i f the issue i f we m u s t r e a c h t h a t The U n i t e d S t a t e s Supreme C o u r t had particular the the case immediate cases such decisions waiting luxury this, 330 a statute i t i s presented to us, i n order to decide the case. i n Troxel, under the a s i t d o e s i n many circumstances often S t a t e c o u r t s such do n o t have i n real in that that Court luxury; t o make The U n i t e d S t a t e s S u p r e m e C o u r t that as o u r s , i n real cases without the luxury of "much s t a t e - c o u r t c o n t e x t o c c u r s on a c a s e - b y - c a s e citing I that concludes on t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s Supreme a s much when i t s t a t e d this declare i s properly issue before i t . n e e d t o b e made pronouncement. to Respectfully, o f g o i n g o n l y "so f a r " i n o r d e r t o d i s p o s e o f case as need Court and cases, Appeals basis," i t s next acknowledged adjudication i n 530 U.S. a t 7 3 , as e x a m p l e s t h e M a r y l a n d c a s e o f F a i r b a n k s v . M c C a r t e r , Md. 39, 49-50, 622 A.2d 77 121, 126-27 (1993), and t h e 1090883 Virginia S.E.2d case 417, of Williams 418 v. and (1998 ), "interpret[ed] Virginia['s] require a finding visitation." Consistent make guidance Civil v. from on expressed 812 that court there So. latter visitation 2d be 21, 501 case statute to to awarding in a number of cases ( A l a . C i v . App. as a p r e r e q u i s i t e t o "harm there during fundamental of my issue i n R.S.C. 2001 ), I court-ordered, must be a or p o t e n t i a l harm to prior the Court In the lead opinion visitation, courts without Court, t h e same 361, 364-65 that, appellate matters Supreme to address grandparent would States t o us t o d a y . the view unsupervised for state constitutional required i s presented J.B.C. , 19, the that nonparental t h e need on was that Va. a t 74. the United Appeals tenure that with decisions noting 256 o f harm as c o n d i t i o n p r e c e d e n t 530 U.S. 1 8 Williams, showing to the c h i l d i f As d i s c u s s e d i n the opinion of the Court of Civil A p p e a l s i n t h i s c a s e , V i r g i n i a ' s Supreme C o u r t i s o n l y one o f a g r e a t m a j o r i t y of c o u r t s t h r o u g h o u t the n a t i o n t h a t have r e j e c t e d a mere " b e s t i n t e r e s t s " s t a n d a r d a n d e x p l a i n e d t h a t the C o n s t i t u t i o n r e q u i r e s a showing o f harm and/or other "compelling" state interest. E.H.G. v . E.R.G., [Ms. 2 0 7 1 0 6 1 , M a r c h 12, 2010] So. 3d , ( A l a . C i v . App. 2 0 1 0 ) . 1 8 78 1090883 such visitation following year i s not allowed." I wrote specially 1 9 812 S o . 2d a t 372. i n L . B . S . v . L.M.S., The 826 S o . W i t h r e s p e c t t o t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l r e q u i r e m e n t t h a t any intrusion into parental decision-making regarding children's associations must be narrowly tailored to the least r e s t r i c t i v e means n e c e s s a r y t o a d d r e s s t h e s t a t e ' s i n t e r e s t , I made t h e f o l l o w i n g o b s e r v a t i o n s i n R.S.C.: 1 9 " O v e r n i g h t and o t h e r u n s u p e r v i s e d 'visitation' removes c h i l d r e n from t h e p r e s e n c e and c o n t r o l o f their parents and gives complete control and a u t h o r i t y over the c h i l d f o r a p e r i o d of time t o another a d u l t , e s s e n t i a l l y e f f e c t i n g a temporary or 'partial custody.' Parents' interests i n the nurture, upbringing, companionship, care, and custody of t h e i r c h i l d r e n are thus i m p l i c a t e d i n ways t h a t t h e y a r e n o t w i t h o c c a s i o n a l , s u p e r v i s e d visits. In Troxel, itself, the p l u r a l i t y made special note of the fact that there was 'no a l l e g a t i o n t h a t [the parent] ever sought t o c u t o f f visitation entirely,' but simply preferred to r e s t r i c t v i s i t a t i o n t o 'one s h o r t v i s i t p e r m o n t h a n d s p e c i a l h o l i d a y s . ' 530 U.S. a t 7 1 , 120 S . C t . 2054. A t t r i a l , t h e p a r e n t a s k e d t h e c o u r t t o o r d e r ' o n l y one d a y o f v i s i t a t i o n p e r month ( w i t h no o v e r n i g h t s t a y ) and p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n t h e G r a n v i l l e f a m i l y ' s h o l i d a y c e l e b r a t i o n s . ' I d . a t 7 1 , 120 S . C t . 2 0 5 4 . The S u p r e m e C o u r t c r i t i c i z e d t h e t r i a l c o u r t ' s 'failure to accord significant weight to [the parent's] already having offered meaningful v i s i t a t i o n ' i n this regard to the grandparents. Id. a t 7 2 , 120 S . C t . 2 0 5 4 . " R.S.C., 812 S o . 2 d a t 3 6 9 - 7 0 omitted). (some e m p h a s i s o m i t t e d ; f o o t n o t e s 79 1090883 2d 178 ( A l a . C i v . App. 2002) judgment o f r e v e r s a l o n l y ; my v i e w a that granted." interference j o i n e d by Y a t e s , visitation "clear convincing by harm t o t h e c h i l d and i n such to serve t h e harm only upon evidence" of i fthe requested v i s i t a t i o n i s 826 S o . 2 d a t 1 8 8 . permitted i n the to express may b e o r d e r e d tailored preventing P.J.), grandparent which i s " l e a s t r e s t r i c t i v e closely J . , concurring showing threshold "substantial not (Murdock, I further asserted circumstances must that the be that o f t h e f u n d a m e n t a l r i g h t and most [the]compelling i n question. 2 0 state interest" i n 826 S o . 2 d a t 1 9 2 . The In L.B.S., I suggested that t h e " s u b s t a n t i a l harm" necessary to j u s t i f y state i n t e r f e r e n c e i n the decisions of a parent regarding v i s i t a t i o n with others w o u l d be "serious p s y c h o l o g i c a l o r e m o t i o n a l harm." 826 S o . 2 d a t 1 9 1 . I a l s o suggested that i t i s the "net e f f e c t " ( i . e . , weighing the advantages and d i s a d v a n t a g e s of the v i s i t a t i o n decision against one a n o t h e r ) of the court's s u b s t i t u t i o n of i t s d e c i s i o n f o r t h a t o f t h e p a r e n t t h a t must be c o n s i d e r e d i n this regard. As t o t h e s e two s u g g e s t i o n s , I w r o t e as f o l l o w s : 2 0 " I am a c u t e l y a w a r e t h a t , i n many c a s e s , w h e r e a c h i l d has e n j o y e d a s u b s t a n t i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h a grandparent, a r b i t r a r i l y depriving the c h i l d of the r e l a t i o n s h i p could cause the c h i l d serious p s y c h o l o g i c a l or e m o t i o n a l harm. In In re Custody o f S m i t h , [ 1 3 7 Wash. 2 d 1, 969 P . 2 d 21 ( 1 9 9 8 ) , ] t h e Washington Supreme Court also recognized that 8 80 1090883 arbitrarily depriving a child of a s u b s t a n t i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h a t h i r d person could cause 'severe p s y c h o l o g i c a l harm.' 137 Wash. 2 d a t 2 0 , 969 P . 2 d at 30. S e e a l s o T r o x e l , 530 U.S. a t 9 9 , 120 S . C t . 2054 ( K e n n e d y , J . , d i s s e n t i n g ) . No s h o w i n g o f h a r m was r e q u i r e d b y t h e W a s h i n g t o n s t a t u t e a t i s s u e , however, and t h e c o u r t c i t e d Washington s t a t e law f o r t h e p r o p o s i t i o n t h a t 'a s t a t e c a n o n l y intrude upon a f a m i l y ' s i n t e g r i t y p u r s u a n t t o i t s p a r e n s p a t r i a e r i g h t when " p a r e n t a l a c t i o n s o r d e c i s i o n s seriously conflict with the physical or mental health of the c h i l d . " ' 137 Wash. 2 d a t 1 8 , 969 P . 2 d a t 29 ( c i t a t i o n o m i t t e d ; e m p h a s i s a d d e d ) . S e e a l s o P a r h a m v . J . R . , 442 U.S. 5 8 4 , 6 0 3 , 99 S . C t . 2493, 61 L . E d . 2 d 101 ( 1 9 7 9 ) ; W i s c o n s i n v . Y o d e r , 406 U.S. 2 0 5 , 2 3 0 , 92 S . C t . 1 5 2 6 , 32 L . E d . 2 d 15 ( 1 9 7 2 ) . " P a r e n t s o f t e n a r e c a l l e d upon t o d e c i d e between c o m p e t i n g a l t e r n a t i v e s , e a c h o f w h i c h may entail b o t h b e n e f i t s and d e t r i m e n t s for their children. I conclude that a court may not c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l y substitute i t s decision f o r that of a f i t c u s t o d i a l p a r e n t as t o what, i f a n y , g r a n d p a r e n t v i s i t a t i o n i s in a c h i l d ' s o v e r a l l best i n t e r e s t , unless the net e f f e c t of the court's s u b s t i t u t i n g i t s d e c i s i o n f o r t h a t o f t h e p a r e n t ' s w i l l be t o p r e v e n t s u b s t a n t i a l harm t o t h e c h i l d . " I a l s o n o t e t h a t A l a . Code 1975, § 3 0 - 3 - 4 . 1 , allows a court to override the d e c i s i o n of a parent a n d o r d e r w h a t t h e c o u r t may deem t o b e 'reasonable' visitation. The s t a t u t e d o e s n o t e x p r e s s l y state t h a t t h e c o u r t may o r d e r o n l y v i s i t a t i o n narrowly t a i l o r e d t o a d d r e s s an a d j u d g e d harm. Y e t , as n o t e d previously, the interference with a fundamental r i g h t f o r the purpose of serving a compelling state 81 1090883 i n t e r e s t must be done i n a manner t h a t i s l e a s t restrictive of the fundamental right and most closely tailored to serve that compelling state interest. S e e W a s h i n g t o n v . G l u c k s b e r g , 5 2 1 U.S. 7 0 2 , 117 S . C t . 2 2 5 8 , 138 L . E d . 2 d 772 ( 1 9 9 7 ) ; B e a g l e v . B e a g l e , 678 S o . 2 d [ 1 2 7 1 , ] a t 1 2 7 5 [ ( F l a . 1 9 9 6 ) ] (recognizing i n the context of a challenge to Florida's grandparent-visitation statute that the statute must meet a compelling state interest 'through the use of the l e a s t i n t r u s i v e means'). Limiting a court's interference with parental authority to the extent necessary, or reasonably n e c e s s a r y , t o p r e v e n t o r a l l e v i a t e t h e a d j u d g e d harm would r e s u l t i n less interference with parental authority. Compliance with such a requirement c o n c e i v a b l y c o u l d e n t a i l a d j u s t m e n t s t o t h e number o r d u r a t i o n o f v i s i t s , l i m i t a t i o n s on t h e n a t u r e o f the v i s i t a t i o n (e.g., a r e s t r i c t i o n of v i s i t a t i o n t o s u p e r v i s e d v i s i t s only) and/or t o other c o n d i t i o n s or r e s t r i c t i o n s . " I n B o r s d o r f v . M i l l s , 49 A l a . A p p . 6 5 8 , 2 7 5 So. 2 d 338 (1 9 7 3 ) , this court affirmed a trial c o u r t ' s judgment awarding custody of a c h i l d to f o s t e r parents over the o b j e c t i o n of h i s n a t u r a l mother. The c h i l d h a d b e e n r e m o v e d f r o m t h e c u s t o d y o f h i s m o t h e r a t an age o f l e s s t h a n two y e a r s a n d was ' t a k e n i n t o a home [ t h e f o s t e r p a r e n t s ' ] a n d g i v e n t h e same c o m f o r t , l o v e a n d a f f e c t i o n o v e r a p e r i o d o f t w o a n d a h a l f y e a r s w h i c h was g i v e n t o t h e n a t u r a l c h i l d r e n i n t h e home.' 49 A l a . A p p . a t 661, 275 So.2d a t 3 4 1 . T h i s c o u r t e x p l a i n e d t h a t t o r e m o v e t h e c h i l d ' f r o m t h e o n l y home a n d p a r e n t s h e knows a n d s e n d h i m t o an u n c e r t a i n f u t u r e i n a 8 82 1090883 views I e x p r e s s e d i n R.S.C. a n d L . B . S . w e r e f u r t h e r r e f i n e d i n B e c k v. J., Beck, 865 concurring So. in 2d the 446 ( A l a . C i v . App. result), in which 2003) I (Murdock, suggested follows: d i s t a n t s t a t e w i t h s t r a n g e r s , e v e n t h o u g h one be a n a t u r a l p a r e n t , c o u l d n o t a v o i d b e i n g [a] t r a u m a t i c e x p e r i e n c e w h i c h c o u l d be c a l c u l a t e d t o be e x t r e m e l y damaging.' Id. "'[T]he importance of the familial r e l a t i o n s h i p , to the i n d i v i d u a l s involved and to the society, stems from the emotional attachments t h a t d e r i v e from the i n t i m a c y o f d a i l y a s s o c i a t i o n , and f r o m t h e role i t plays " i n promot[ing] a way of l i f e " through the i n s t r u c t i o n of c h i l d r e n as well as from the fact of blood relationship.' " L e h r v . R o b e r t s o n , 4 63 U.S. 2 4 8 , 2 61 , 103 S.Ct. 2 9 8 5 , 77 L . E d . 2 d 614 (1983). See a l s o R i d e o u t v . R i e n d e a u , 761 A . 2 d 291 (Me. 2 0 0 0 ) ( u p h o l d i n g f i n d i n g t h a t g r a n d p a r e n t s h a d a c t e d as c h i l d r e n ' s p a r e n t s f o r s i g n i f i c a n t p e r i o d s o f t i m e , and h o l d i n g t h a t a statute requiring a sufficient existing relationship between grandparents and children i n order for grandparents to p e t i t i o n for visitation served a c o m p e l l i n g s t a t e i n t e r e s t a n d was n a r r o w l y t a i l o r e d to serve that i n t e r e s t ) . " L.B.S., 826 So. 2d at 191-92 (footnote omitted). 83 as 1090883 " [ W ] h i l e § 30-3-4.1 a t t e m p t s t o open t h e door f o r c o u r t s t o impose g r a n d p a r e n t v i s i t a t i o n a g a i n s t t h e wishes of a f i t parent, the United States Constitution requires that t h a t d o o r be a l l b u t c l o s e d -- r e m a i n i n g o n l y s l i g h t l y a j a r f o r t h o s e egregious cases where i t i s 'clear' that ' s u b s t a n t i a l h a r m ' w i l l come t o t h e c h i l d absent judicial intervention. 2 " This 'opening' may, f o r example, be wide enough t o a l l o w t h e a p p l i c a t i o n o f § 30-3-4.1 t o cases i n which a grandparent has served for a s i g n i f i c a n t p e r i o d a s a c h i l d ' s de f a c t o p a r e n t , s o that depriving the child of a continuing relationship with that grandparent would cause serious psychological or emotional harm to the c h i l d . S e e L . B . S . [ v . L . M . S . ] , 826 S o . 2 d [ 1 7 8 ] a t 1 9 1 - 9 2 n. 8 a n d a c c o m p a n y i n g t e x t ( A l a . C i v . A p p . 2002) (Murdock, J . , c o n c u r r i n g i n t h e judgment o f reversal only)." 2 865 So. 2d a t 4 5 1 . Based upon participation consideration legislature attempts wiser in of over consideration the of t h i s foregoing the various the past 30 to address constitutional the my this dictates, I have a n d more p r u d e n t cases, statutes years issue come since including adopted i n several i n a manner course 84 question by my my the unsuccessful consistent with to the conclusion that -- a n d , m o r e importantly, 1090883 the c o u r s e d i c t a t e d by t h e r e s p e c t our Constitution and p r o t e c t i o n to the unalienable right of p a r e n t s t o r a i s e t h e i r c h i l d r e n and c o n t r o l t h e i r required f i t custodial associations -- w o u l d be an a p p r o a c h c o n s i s t e n t w i t h the approach by opinion Judge J.B.C., J., Crawley 812 So. concurring in his concurring 2 d 3 6 1 , 373 i n the ( A l a . C i v . App. by in 2001) suggested R.S.C. v. (Crawley, result): "I agree w i t h the d i s c u s s i o n of the a p p l i c a b l e l e g a l p r i n c i p l e s . However, I c o n c l u d e t h a t A l a . Code 1975, § 30-3-4.1, is per se, or facially, unconstitutional. The o p i n i o n r e c o g n i z e s t h a t a f i t p a r e n t has a f u n d a m e n t a l r i g h t ' i n t h e absence o f harm o r p o t e n t i a l harm t o t h e c h i l d ' t o d e t e r m i n e when a g r a n d p a r e n t may v i s i t h i s o r h e r c h i l d a n d t h a t § 30-3-4.1 i s n o t n a r r o w l y t a i l o r e d t o p r o t e c t t h a t f u n d a m e n t a l r i g h t . 812 S o . 2 d a t 3 7 2 . I agree with that reasoning except f o r the phrase I quoted a b o v e -- ' i n t h e a b s e n c e o f h a r m o r p o t e n t i a l h a r m to the c h i l d . ' Our s t a t e h a s a p r o c e d u r e f o r p r o t e c t i n g c h i l d r e n f r o m h a r m -- t h e i n v o c a t i o n o f dependency jurisdiction. See A l a . Code 1975, § 12-15-1 e t s e q . , and § 26-18-1 e t s e q . See a l s o my o p i n i o n c o n c u r r i n g i n t h e r e s u l t i n J . S . v . D.W., 835 S o . 2 d 174 ( A l a . C i v . App. 2001)[, rev'd, E x p a r t e D.W., 835 S o . 2 d 186 ( A l a . 2 0 0 2 ) ] . " I refer to an approach "consistent with" the s u g g e s t e d i n J u d g e C r a w l e y ' s s p e c i a l w r i t i n g i n R.S.C. I would add t o Judge Crawley's explanation 85 approach because of the a v a i l a b i l i t y 1090883 of "dependency from harm the purpose the Ex p a r t e Terry, As the jurisdiction" fact that forfeiture Court 4 94 the and So. explained for State unfitness 628 , 632 in the protection also of provides standards ( A l a . 1 98 6 ) , a n d children for that discussed in i t s progeny. Terry: "'The prima f a c i e r i g h t of a n a t u r a l parent to the custody of h i s or her c h i l d , as a g a i n s t the r i g h t of custody i n a nonparent, i s grounded i n the common l a w c o n c e p t t h a t t h e p r i m a r y p a r e n t a l right of custody i s i n the best i n t e r e s t and w e l f a r e of t h e c h i l d as a m a t t e r o f l a w . So s t r o n g i s t h i s presumption, absent a showing of voluntary forfeiture of t h a t r i g h t , t h a t i t c a n be o v e r c o m e o n l y by a f i n d i n g , s u p p o r t e d by c o m p e t e n t evidence, t h a t the parent seeking custody i s g u i l t y of such m i s c o n d u c t or n e g l e c t to a degree which renders t h a t p a r e n t an u n f i t a n d i m p r o p e r p e r s o n t o be e n t r u s t e d with the care and upbringing of the child in question.'" Terry, 494 58, (Ala. 59 So. 2 d a t 632 1983)) ( q u o t i n g Ex p a r t e M a t h e w s , 428 (some e m p h a s i s omitted). So. 2d 2 1 Even aside from the question of a "voluntary f o r f e i t u r e , " i f a parent i s w i l l i n g to s u b j e c t a c h i l d to the t y p e and s e v e r i t y o f p s y c h o l o g i c a l harm t h a t can r e s u l t from t h e a b r u p t and c o m p l e t e r e m o v a l o f t h e c h i l d f r o m t h e custody of the only parent f i g u r e he or she has known f o r some e x t e n d e d p e r i o d , one may reasonably q u e s t i o n the f i t n e s s of that parent to have s o l e custody of t h a t t h a t c h i l d . See g e n e r a l l y Ex p a r t e T e r r y , 494 So. a t 32 ( q u o t i n g M a t h e w s , 428 2 1 86 1090883 I also various offer comments First, dissenting acting comments i n the dissenting opinion: i t s outset opinion speaks necessarily the c h i l d do n o t b e l i e v e that t h e government recipients them. are this U.S. Court file or hours every children filing of infinite "best (1979) could number ("[W]e h a v e something I t h e power be cabinets, the made f o r that there courtrooms, of this State to o f d e c i s i o n s made b y f i t be c h a l l e n g e d interests." term not being could i n t h e day f o r t h e c o u r t s State's i . e . , "harm." from that the The has r e c o g n i z e d decisions folders, day t h a t children's 5 8 4 , 603 the existence ever to "protect" address the v i r t u a l l y their of the i s the law, I r e s p e c t f u l l y observe n o t enough parents of the necessity implies to i t s conclusion, needs t o be p r o t e c t e d , of the "best" I f that judges, and near i n relation c h i l d r e n a r e i n need o f " p r o t e c t i o n . " "protection" of following at both when from which the as n o t b e i n g See Parham recognized in v . J . R . , 442 that a state i s So. 2 d a t 5 9 ) . C o m p a r e D.C. v . C.O., 7 2 1 S o . 2 d 195 ( A l a . C i v . A p p . 1 998 ) ; R.K. v . R . J . , 843 S o . 2 d 774 ( A l a . C i v . A p p . 2002). 87 1090883 not w i t h o u t c o n s t i t u t i o n a l c o n t r o l over p a r e n t a l d i s c r e t i o ni n dealing with c h i l d r e n when t h e i r p h y s i c a l o r m e n t a l h e a l t h i s jeopardized. parent risks ... [But] [s]imply because i s not agreeable to a does n o t a u t o m a t i c a l l y decision from the parents child the decision or because of a i t involves t r a n s f e r t h e p o w e r t o make t o some agency or o f f i c e r that of the state."). Second, the I r e s p e c t f u l l y submit that necessity prerequisite following parental o f harm to action matters rights, proceedings, (4) or p o t e n t i a l that (2) by the the dissent harm State of i t references: dependency adoption to children Alabama (1) as and (3) (5) a i n the termination proceedings, proceedings, overlooks of custody abortions sought by m i n o r s . In the f i r s t of p a r e n t a l act unless -- d e p e n d e n c y r i g h t s -- t h e l a w i s c l e a r t h a t the c h i l d supervision. Code two o f t h e s e 1975, and the State i s dependent upon t h e S t a t e As t h e d i s s e n t expressly notes, provides 88 termination may n o t f o r care and § 12-15-314(a)(4), A l a . for a "best interests" 1090883 determination by a dependent.'" So. 20 9 0 8 3 1 , J a n u a r y 2011)). See that or the her unable to 1975, § the warrant § a obligations Ex 3d (Ala. finding of at protect the child from a absent a of such App. the Of showing fulfill his i . e . , that child, risk Civ. (describing u n w i l l i n g to toward [Ms. dependency). terminated or child D.B., parte 12-15-102(8) child reference that As third i f the party, of the serious harm. a custody third a the parent degree which the dispute party ... dissent i s made f i tparents, either "'voluntary ... that to to i n the reference b e t w e e n two inapposite. neglect 1975, the f o r the disputes or] So. placed extent showing (quoting a harm See or Ala. is Code 12-15-319. As to at i s e i t h e r unable parental has "'after adjudicating r i g h t s c a n n o t be parent parent only 2011] Code that parental 3d 21, Ala. circumstances course, court in to custody relation between forfeiture is guilty 89 to custody authority c i t e d there a parent i s to p r e v a i l renders disputes, that of of there and a m u s t be a [parental ... parent rights misconduct an is unfit or and 1090883 improper of person the c h i l d (quoting Ex entrusted with in question.'" Ex parte t o be parte (concluding that the wrong legal standard facie right of the 428 410 of and, rather and erroneously inquired and a custody of the As reach interest have child" decision of has been the child consented was whether until terminated. termination Finally, court the See of p a r e n t a l a than by "the upbringing So. 417 2d a t See 1982) applied r e s p e c t i n g the a step the prima inquiring gone 632 also (Ala. had merely i n t o who, (emphasis or and 59) . Appeals f i t , had to adoption proceedings, the either nonparent, was at 416, Civil n a t u r a l parent n a t u r a l parent 2d 2d Court the parent So. So. whether had care Ex p a r t e T e r r y , 494 Mathews, Berryhill, the as to further as b e t w e e n t h e n a t u r a l fittest of the two for and does not added)). the S t a t e cannot the after adoption the parental above is in the best child's natural parent rights of parent regarding the that standard for rights. cannot decide that b e s t i n t e r e s t t o o b t a i n an a b o r t i o n w i t h o u t 90 i t is in a the consent child's of her 1090883 parent unless following there i s evidence supporting one of the allegations: "a. That t h e p e t i t i o n e r i s s u f f i c i e n t l y mature and w e l l enough i n f o r m e d t o i n t e l l i g e n t l y decide w h e t h e r t o h a v e an a b o r t i o n w i t h o u t t h e c o n s e n t o f e i t h e r of her parents or l e g a l guardian. "b. T h a t one o r b o t h o f h e r p a r e n t s o r h e r guardian has engaged i n a pattern of physical, s e x u a l , o r e m o t i o n a l abuse a g a i n s t h e r , o r t h a t t h e consent of her parents, parent or l e g a l guardian otherwise i s not i n her best i n t e r e s t . " Ala. Code 1975, § 2 6 - 2 1 - 4 ( d ) ( 4 ) . The i n t r u s i o n on p a r e n t a l r i g h t s r e f l e c t e d by t h e s e s t a t u t o r y p r o v i s i o n s i s p r e m i s e d , by mandate o f p r e c e d e n t on from t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s Supreme C o u r t , the n o t i o n t h a t the a b o r t i o n d e c i s i o n so f a r as t h e c h i l d ' s Bellotti v. B a i r d , situations important decision indelible."). constitutional 443 U.S. i n which i s of a "unique 6 2 2 , 642 denying will a have minor rights (1979) are concerned, ("[T]here the right consequences so nature" a r e few t o make grave an and 2 2 B y t h e same t o k e n , t h e i s s u e o f p a r e n t a l r i g h t s v i s - a ¬ v i s t h e a u t h o r i t y o f t h e S t a t e , i fany, t o mandate g r a n d p a r e n t v i s i t a t i o n b a s e d upon t h e g o v e r n m e n t ' s d e t e r m i n a t i o n o f what i s i n the "best i n t e r e s t s of the c h i l d " i s a d i f f e r e n t matter 2 2 91 1090883 In the penultimate reference to the children" and disregarded So. at 3d any time court's of . to I am the of the dissent, there is i n t e r v e n i n g "to p r o t e c t the r i g h t s of "protecting h i s or her at paragraph a child i f an adult has r e s p o n s i b i l i t y toward that c h i l d . " unfamiliar with effect that any a child h o l d i n g by has a "right" any court to visit e n t i r e l y from each of t h a t l i t a n y of t h i n g s t h a t are d i s c u s s e d b y t h e d i s s e n t a n d t h a t i n c l u d e t h e f o l l o w i n g : (1) w h e t h e r t h e S t a t e may t r e a t a c h i l d l i k e an a d u l t f o r p u r p o s e s o f a c r i m i n a l p r o c e e d i n g a r i s i n g out of the c h i l d ' s conduct or f o r p u r p o s e s of the c h i l d ' s i n t e r a c t i o n s w i t h p o l i c e o f f i c e r s ; (2) w h e t h e r t h e S t a t e may i m p o s e age l i m i t s c o n c e r n i n g the p u r c h a s e or consumption of a l c o h o l , the o p e r a t i o n of a motor v e h i c l e , and t h e a b i l i t y t o e n t e r i n t o a m a r r i a g e c o n t r a c t ; (3) w h e t h e r t h e S t a t e may, over a parent's o b j e c t i o n , provide "medical care or t r e a t m e n t f o r a c h i l d when t h e c a r e or t r e a t m e n t i s n e c e s s a r y t o p r e v e n t or remedy s e r i o u s harm t o t h e c h i l d , " A l a . Code 1975, § 2 6-14-7.2(b), or waive the r e q u i r e m e n t o f p a r e n t a l c o n s e n t t o an a b o r t i o n p r o c e d u r e ; a n d (4) w h e t h e r t h e S t a t e c a n r e q u i r e t h e p a y m e n t o f c h i l d s u p p o r t f o r c h i l d r e n who are not yet a d u l t s . See So. 3d a t (Main, J . , d i s s e n t i n g ) . I n e a c h o f t h e a b o v e - d e s c r i b e d i n s t a n c e s (1) t h e c h i l d o r the c h i l d ' s i n t e r e s t s e i t h e r are b e i n g s e r i o u s l y harmed or are a t r i s k o f s e r i o u s harm and (2) t h e n e e d f o r t h e State's i n t e r v e n t i o n to a d d r e s s t h a t harm or r i s k of harm i s the result of the c h i l d ' s immature d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g skills or c o n c e r n s about the p a r e n t s w i l l i n g n e s s or a b i l i t y to p r o t e c t the c h i l d . S e c t i o n 3 0 - 3 - 4 . 1 , A l a . C o d e 1 9 7 5 , r e f l e c t s no s u c h considerations. 92 1090883 with h i s or her grandparent. holding o f any c o u r t has a legal not i n the best doubt that doubt that, Mistakes interests parents are part t o be fundamental custody, simply v. with that they deemed u n f i t done a decision rise to a level occasions. of causing i n that child no for intervention role. of natural parents of t h e i r no I have s o o n many to continue 455 U.S. 7 4 5 , 753 the dissent "focus[ing] on t h e b e s t does criticism responsive on t h e r i g h t s not evaporate fails t o take Santosky opinion of the parents of the children." to this into "The i n the care, t h e main In addition to the legal p r i n c i p l e s fully the (1982). criticizes interests that i s I have occasions; not a basis any a parent because they have n o t been model p a r e n t s purportedly are t o n o t make of parenting, unless familiar to the effect I have liberty interest Finally, . I d i d s o on many and management Kramer, than am of h i s or her c h i l d . as a p a r e n t , by t h e government parent a t any time "responsibility" my Nor for rather So. 3d a t discussed above that c r i t i c i s m , I would add t h a t this consideration 93 that a parent's 1090883 legal rights in relation to a child are linked to c o r r e l a t i v e of the parent's f u l f i l l m e n t of l e g a l d u t i e s the and toward child. "As the duty of support and protection to the infant, and r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to society for the g o v e r n m e n t o f t h e f a m i l y , and t h e r i g h t t o t h e c a r e and c u s t o d y o f t h e c h i l d , and t h e o r d e r i n g of the f a m i l y , a r e c o r r e l a t i v e a n d d e p e n d e n t t h e one u p o n t h e o t h e r , i f t h e l a w h a s t a k e n away t h e r i g h t s , t h e duties f r o m w h i c h t h e r i g h t s r e s u l t , and t o t h e performance of which the r i g h t s are e s s e n t i a l , are a b r o g a t e d ; and t h e c h i l d i s t h e n l e f t w i t h o u t l a w f u l p r o t e c t o r s , and s o c i e t y i s w i t h o u t any s e c u r i t y f o r the proper performance of important s o c i a l d u t i e s . " People ex 1861). Unless position State r e l . Brooks to has a no basis v. Whatley, (describing liberty"); (explaining 35 to her custody, 238 "the child" Barb. is obligations to upon t h e p a r e n t ' s and control 206, and the law does 94 the rights in 189 754 So. 751, relations "interwoven not a See legal being in of the c h i l d . 20 9, natural not Sup. a child, Ala. as (N.Y. or R h o d e s v . L e w i s , 24 6 A l a . 2 3 1 , that 85, satisfy, for intruding Chandler and fails s a t i s f y , h i s or to the care, parent Brooks, parent relation (1939) v. 20 presume with So. between life and 2 d 20 6 (1944 ) that "the best 1090883 interests from the of the natural child" exist r i g h t s of i n a conceptual the parents). vacuum separate 2 3 E s s e n t i a l l y , the d i s s e n t appears to equate the s t a t e ' s r i g h t to i n t e r v e n e f o r p r o p o s e s of p r o t e c t i n g a c h i l d from h a r m (an o b l i g a t i o n t h a t n o r m a l l y f a l l s u p o n t h e p a r e n t s ) with the s t a t e ' s r i g h t t o i n t e r v e n e b a s e d s o l e l y upon what i t p e r c e i v e s t o be i n a c h i l d ' s b e s t i n t e r e s t s . Although the f o r m e r i s f o u n d e d i n t h e common-law d o c t r i n e o f p a r e n s p a t r i a e and r e f l e c t s a n o r m a l f u n c t i o n o f t h e s t a t e ' s p o l i c e p o w e r , t h e l a t t e r f i n d s no s u b s t a n t i a l b a s i s i n o u r l a w . See 1 W i l l i a m B l a c k s t o n e , C o m m e n t a r i e s on t h e L a w s o f E n g l a n d *452 (footnotes omitted; c i t a t i o n s omitted); W i l l i a m Macpherson, A T r e a t i s e on t h e Law R e l a t i n g t o I n f a n t s 106-111 (1843); 2 J o s e p h S t o r y , C o m m e n t a r i e s on E q u i t y J u r i s p r u d e n c e i n E n g l a n d a n d A m e r i c a § 1341 (1886). See a l s o W i s c o n s i n v . Y o d e r , 406 U.S. 2 0 5 , 230 ( 1 9 7 2 ) ( r e j e c t i n g t h e S t a t e ' s a t t e m p t t o s u p p o r t a p p l i c a t i o n of a compulsory h i g h - s c h o o l - a t t e n d a n c e law to Amish c h i l d r e n , s t a t i n g : " T h i s c a s e , o f c o u r s e , i s n o t one i n w h i c h any harm t o t h e p h y s i c a l o r m e n t a l h e a l t h o f t h e c h i l d o r t o t h e p u b l i c s a f e t y , p e a c e , o r d e r , o r w e l f a r e has been d e m o n s t r a t e d o r may be p r o p e r l y i n f e r r e d . The r e c o r d i s t o t h e c o n t r a r y , a n d a n y r e l i a n c e on t h a t t h e o r y w o u l d f i n d no support in the evidence." (footnote omitted; emphasis a d d e d ) ) ; R . J . D . v . V a u g h a n C l i n i c , P.C., 572 So. 2d 1225, 1 2 2 7 - 2 8 ( A l a . 1990) ("The common l a w deems p a r e n t a l c a r e f o r c h i l d r e n n o t o n l y an o b l i g a t i o n , b u t a l s o an i n h e r e n t right: ' I n s u c h m a t t e r s as d e c i d i n g on t h e n e e d f o r s u r g i c a l o r h o s p i t a l treatment, the w i s h e s of young c h i l d r e n are not c o n s u l t e d , n o r t h e i r c o n s e n t a s k e d when t h e y a r e o l d e n o u g h t o give expression thereto. The will of the parents is c o n t r o l l i n g , e x c e p t i n t h o s e extreme i n s t a n c e s where the s t a t e takes over to rescue the c h i l d from p a r e n t a l n e g l e c t or to save i t s l i f e . 59 Am. J u r . 2 d . P a r e n t a n d C h i l d § 48 a t 194 (1987)." (some e m p h a s i s o m i t t e d ; some e m p h a s i s a d d e d ) ) . See Ex p a r t e D e p a r t m e n t o f M e n t a l H e a l t h , 511 So. 2d 1 8 1 , 185 2 3 95 1090883 III. If rights what fit with p a r e n t s have n o t v o l u n t a r i l y or been i s best deemed u n f i t , for their custodial parent some p e r s o n , reason f o r doing government. antithetical It even t h e l a w assumes children. restricts forfeited would be t o many h u n d r e d s that The l a w a s s u m e s h i s or her c h i l d ' s a grandparent, so and n e e d their parental the parent not defend naive and of years that they want that, i fa association has a reason dangerous of Western valid to the -- thought and -- (Ala. 1987) (The j u v e n i l e c o u r t s y s t e m " ' i s rooted i n the concept of parens p a t r i a e , that the s t a t e w i l l supplant the n a t u r a l p a r e n t s when t h e y f a i l i n t h a t r o l e . ' I n r e F.C., 484 S.W.2d 2 1 , 25 (Mo. A p p . 1 9 7 2 ) . " (emphasis added)); P r i n c e v. S t a t e , 19 A l a . A p p . 4 9 5 , 4 9 5 , 98 S o . 3 2 0 , 320 ( 1 9 1 7 ) ("'The provision of the statute [for juvenile detention] i s a p r o v i s i o n by t h e s t a t e , under n e c e s s i t y , as p a r e n s patriae, for the custody of neglected children, incorrigible, or c r i m i n a l l y i n c l i n e d c h i l d r e n , and i s i n t e n d e d t o s u p p l y t o them t h a t p a r e n t a l c u s t o d y and c a r e and r e s t r a i n t w h i c h t h e i r w e l f a r e , and t h e i n t e r e s t s o f t h e s t a t e i n t h e w e l f a r e o f t h e c h i l d r e n , r e q u i r e , which p a r e n t a l custody, or the p a r e n t a l right to the custody, the parents have f o r any reason s u r r e n d e r e d o r l o s t . ' " ( q u o t i n g 1 W h a r t o n ' s C r i m i n a l Law 473 (11th e d . ) ) ) ; s e e a l s o G.H. v . C l e b u r n e C o u n t y D e p ' t o f Human Res., [Ms. 2 0 9 0 4 3 1 , N o v . 1 2 , 2 0 1 0 ] So. 3d , (Ala. C i v . A p p . 2 0 1 0 ) ( D e p a r t m e n t o f Human R e s o u r c e s a c t s a s p a r e n s p a t r i a e when i t f i l e s a d e p e n d e n c y p e t i t i o n ) ; E x p a r t e S t a t e e x r e l . E c h o l s , 2 4 5 A l a . 3 5 3 , 17 S o . 2 d 449 ( 1 9 4 4 ) . 96 1090883 to view the state as possessing inherently superior ability As between parent their f i t parents some seven high to decide a c h i l d ' s best and the state, we must ground interest. l e t parents Justices, including the m a j o r i t y of t h i s those who concur only Court i n the r e s u l t -- i n c o n c l u d i n g t h a t § 3 0 - 3 - 4 . 1 i s u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l its or children. B a s e d on t h e f o r e g o i n g , I j o i n -- moral face. 97 on 1090883 BOLIN, Justice I (concurring r e l u c t a n t l y concur opinion. Although constitutional holding 3d by at , the the the policy of the Alabama that circumstances, legislature's provide. Grandparent through their opinion U.S. Visitation of Act, about So. argued regarding the to uncertain make legacy has shown that visitation, State, to this under as create failed Code to the proper e v i d e n c e d by a statute l e g i s l a t u r e ' s most Ala. State's 1975, recent the accommodate problem here i s Court intervened, 98 not but the to so 2003 Alabama Troxel, states: "The Superior the (2000),]" f i t parents the main "[t]he d o e s come down, as right attempts 30-3-4.1, the that i s not precedent in this the 57 by Troxel. Legislature grandparent § case c h i l d r e n , to in i s favored states in this fundamental multiple to opinion presented Unfortunately, amendment r e s u l t reached [ v . G r a n v i l l e , 530 concerning is the result). d e c i s i o n here r e a l l y plurality The in the grandparents, decisions which issue of T r o x e l recognition of i n the t h a t the Washington t h a t when i t d i d s o , 1090883 it g a v e no s p e c i a l w e i g h t at a l l to Granville's d e t e r m i n a t i o n of h e r d a u g h t e r s ' b e s t i n t e r e s t s . More importantly, i t appears that the S u p e r i o r Court applied exactly the opposite presumption. In r e c i t i n g i t s o r a l r u l i n g a f t e r the c o n c l u s i o n of closing arguments, the Superior Court judge explained: "'The b u r d e n i s t o show t h a t i t i s i n the b e s t i n t e r e s t of the c h i l d r e n t o have some v i s i t a t i o n a n d some q u a l i t y t i m e w i t h their grandparents. I think in most s i t u a t i o n s a commonsensical approach [ i s that] i t i s n o r m a l l y i n the best i n t e r e s t of the c h i l d r e n to spend q u a l i t y time w i t h the grandparent, u n l e s s the grandparent, [ s i c ] t h e r e a r e some i s s u e s o r problems i n v o l v e d wherein the grandparents, their l i f e s t y l e s are going to impact a d v e r s e l y upon the c h i l d r e n . That c e r t a i n l y i s n ' t the c a s e h e r e f r o m what I can t e l l . ' " V e r b a t i m R e p o r t o f P r o c e e d i n g s i n I n r e T r o x e l , No. 9 3 - 3 - 0 0 6 5 0 - 7 (Wash. S u p e r . C t . , D e c . 14, 19, 1 9 9 4 ) , p . 213 ( h e r e i n a f t e r V e r b a t i m R e p o r t ) . "The j u d g e ' s c o m m e n t s s u g g e s t t h a t he p r e s u m e d t h e g r a n d p a r e n t s ' r e q u e s t s h o u l d be g r a n t e d u n l e s s t h e c h i l d r e n w o u l d be 'impact[ed] a d v e r s e l y . ' In effect, the judge p l a c e d on Granville, the f i t custodial parent, the burden of d i s p r o v i n g that v i s i t a t i o n w o u l d be i n t h e b e s t i n t e r e s t o f her d a u g h t e r s . The j u d g e r e i t e r a t e d m o m e n t s l a t e r : 'I t h i n k [ v i s i t a t i o n w i t h t h e T r o x e l s ] w o u l d be i n t h e b e s t i n t e r e s t o f t h e c h i l d r e n and I h a v e n ' t been shown i t i s n o t in [the] best interest of the children.' I d . , a t 214. 99 1090883 "The decisional framework employed by the Superior Court d i r e c t l y contravened the t r a d i t i o n a l presumption that a f i t parent w i l l act i n the best i n t e r e s t o f h i s o r h e r c h i l d . See P a r h a m [ v . J . R . ] , [442 U.S. 584] a t 602 [ ( 1 9 7 9 ) ] . I n t h a t r e s p e c t , t h e c o u r t ' s p r e s u m p t i o n f a i l e d t o p r o v i d e any p r o t e c t i o n for G r a n v i l l e ' s fundamental c o n s t i t u t i o n a l r i g h t to make d e c i s i o n s c o n c e r n i n g t h e r e a r i n g o f h e r own d a u g h t e r s . C f . , e . g . , C a l . Fam. C o d e A n n . § 3 1 0 4 ( e ) (West 1994) ( r e b u t t a b l e p r e s u m p t i o n t h a t g r a n d p a r e n t visitation i s not in child's best interest i f p a r e n t s a g r e e t h a t v i s i t a t i o n r i g h t s s h o u l d n o t be g r a n t e d ) ; Me. R e v . S t a t . A n n . , T i t . 19A, § 1 8 0 3 ( 3 ) ( 1 9 9 8 ) ( c o u r t may a w a r d g r a n d p a r e n t v i s i t a t i o n i f i n b e s t i n t e r e s t o f c h i l d and 'would n o t significantly i n t e r f e r e w i t h any p a r e n t - c h i l d r e l a t i o n s h i p o r w i t h the parent's r i g h t f u l a u t h o r i t y over the child'); Minn. Stat. § 257.022(2)(a)(2) (1998) (court may award g r a n d p a r e n t v i s i t a t i o n i f i n b e s t i n t e r e s t of c h i l d and 'such v i s i t a t i o n w o u l d n o t i n t e r f e r e w i t h t h e p a r e n t - c h i l d r e l a t i o n s h i p ' ) ; Neb. R e v . S t a t . § 43-1802(2) (1998) ( c o u r t must f i n d 'by c l e a r and convincing evidence' that grandparent visitation ' w i l l not a d v e r s e l y i n t e r f e r e w i t h the p a r e n t - c h i l d r e l a t i o n s h i p ' ) ; R . I . Gen. L a w s § 1 5 - 5 - 2 4 . 3 ( a ) ( 2 ) ( v ) ( S u p p . 1999) ( g r a n d p a r e n t must r e b u t , by c l e a r and convincing evidence, presumption that parent's decision to refuse grandparent visitation was r e a s o n a b l e ) ; U t a h Code Ann. § 30-5-2(2)(e) (1998) ( s a m e ) ; H o f f v . B e r g , 595 N.W.2d 2 8 5 , 2 9 1 - 2 9 2 (N.D. 1999) ( h o l d i n g N o r t h Dakota grandparent visitation statute unconstitutional because State has no 'compelling i n t e r e s t i n presuming v i s i t a t i o n r i g h t s o f g r a n d p a r e n t s t o an u n m a r r i e d m i n o r a r e i n t h e c h i l d ' s b e s t i n t e r e s t s and f o r c i n g p a r e n t s t o a c c e d e to c o u r t - o r d e r e d g r a n d p a r e n t a l v i s i t a t i o n u n l e s s the parents are f i r s t able to prove such v i s i t a t i o n i s not i n the best i n t e r e s t s of t h e i r minor c h i l d ' ) . In 100 1090883 ideal world, parents might always seek to an c u l t i v a t e t h e bonds between g r a n d p a r e n t s and t h e i r g r a n d c h i l d r e n . Needless t o say, however, our w o r l d i s f a r from p e r f e c t , and i n i t t h e d e c i s i o n whether such an i n t e r g e n e r a t i o n a l relationship would be b e n e f i c i a l i n any s p e c i f i c case i s f o r t h e p a r e n t t o make i n t h e f i r s t i n s t a n c e . A n d , i f a f i t p a r e n t ' s d e c i s i o n o f t h e k i n d a t i s s u e h e r e becomes s u b j e c t t o j u d i c i a l r e v i e w , t h e c o u r t must a c c o r d a t l e a s t some special weight to the parent's own determination. "Considered together with the Superior Court's reasons f o r awarding v i s i t a t i o n to the Troxels, the combination of these f a c t o r s demonstrates that the visitation order in this case was an unconstitutional infringement on Granville's f u n d a m e n t a l r i g h t t o make d e c i s i o n s c o n c e r n i n g t h e c a r e , c u s t o d y , a n d c o n t r o l o f h e r t w o d a u g h t e r s . The Washington Superior Court failed to accord the determination of G r a n v i l l e , a f i t c u s t o d i a l parent, any m a t e r i a l w e i g h t . I n f a c t , t h e S u p e r i o r C o u r t made o n l y t w o f o r m a l f i n d i n g s i n support ofi t s v i s i t a t i o n order. F i r s t , the T r o x e l s 'are p a r t of a large, central, loving family, a l l located i n this a r e a , and t h e [ T r o x e l s ] can p r o v i d e o p p o r t u n i t i e s f o r t h e c h i l d r e n i n t h e areas o f c o u s i n s and music.' App. 70a. Second, '[t]he children would be benefitted from spending quality time with the [ T r o x e l s ] , p r o v i d e d that that time i s balanced w i t h time w i t h the c h i l d r e n s ' [sic] nuclear family.' I b i d . These s l e n d e r f i n d i n g s , i n c o m b i n a t i o n w i t h the court's announced presumption i n favor of grandparent v i s i t a t i o n and i t s f a i l u r e to accord s i g n i f i c a n t weight to Granville's already having o f f e r e d m e a n i n g f u l v i s i t a t i o n t o t h e T r o x e l s , show 101 1090883 t h a t t h i s c a s e i n v o l v e s n o t h i n g more t h a n a s i m p l e disagreement between the Washington S u p e r i o r Court and Granville concerning her children's best i n t e r e s t s . The S u p e r i o r C o u r t ' s a n n o u n c e d r e a s o n f o r ordering one week of visitation i n the summer demonstrates our c o n c l u s i o n w e l l : ' I l o o k b a c k on some p e r s o n a l e x p e r i e n c e s We a l w a y s s p e n [ t ] a s k i d s a w e e k w i t h one s e t o f g r a n d p a r e n t s a n d a n o t h e r set of grandparents, [and] i t h a p p e n e d t o w o r k o u t in our family that [ i t ] turned out to be an enjoyable experience. Maybe that can, in this family, i f t h a t i s how i t works out.' Verbatim Report 220-221. As we have e x p l a i n e d , the Due P r o c e s s C l a u s e does not p e r m i t a S t a t e to i n f r i n g e on t h e f u n d a m e n t a l r i g h t o f p a r e n t s t o make c h i l d rearing d e c i s i o n s simply because a state judge b e l i e v e s a ' b e t t e r ' d e c i s i o n c o u l d be made. N e i t h e r the Washington nonparental visitation statute g e n e r a l l y - - w h i c h p l a c e s no limits on either the persons who may petition for visitation or the circumstances i n which such a petition may be granted--nor the S u p e r i o r Court i n t h i s specific c a s e r e q u i r e d a n y t h i n g m o r e . A c c o r d i n g l y , we h o l d that § 26.10.160(3), as a p p l i e d i n t h i s c a s e , i s unconstitutional. " B e c a u s e we r e s t o u r d e c i s i o n on t h e sweeping b r e a d t h o f § 2 6 . 1 0 . 1 6 0 ( 3 ) and t h e a p p l i c a t i o n of t h a t b r o a d , u n l i m i t e d p o w e r i n t h i s c a s e , we do n o t c o n s i d e r the primary c o n s t i t u t i o n a l q u e s t i o n passed on b y t h e W a s h i n g t o n S u p r e m e C o u r t - - w h e t h e r t h e Due Process Clause requires a l l nonparental v i s i t a t i o n s t a t u t e s t o i n c l u d e a s h o w i n g o f harm o r p o t e n t i a l harm t o the child as a condition precedent to g r a n t i n g v i s i t a t i o n . We do n o t , a n d n e e d n o t , d e f i n e t o d a y t h e p r e c i s e s c o p e o f t h e p a r e n t a l due p r o c e s s r i g h t i n t h e v i s i t a t i o n c o n t e x t . I n t h i s r e s p e c t , we agree with Justice KENNEDY that the 102 1090883 constitutionality of any standard for awarding v i s i t a t i o n turns on t h e s p e c i f i c m a n n e r i n w h i c h t h a t s t a n d a r d i s a p p l i e d and t h a t t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l p r o t e c t i o n s i n t h i s area are best ' e l a b o r a t e d with c a r e . ' P o s t , at 2079 ( d i s s e n t i n g o p i n i o n ) . B e c a u s e much s t a t e - c o u r t a d j u d i c a t i o n i n t h i s c o n t e x t o c c u r s on a c a s e - b y - c a s e b a s i s , we w o u l d be h e s i t a n t to hold that s p e c i f i c nonparental v i s i t a t i o n statutes v i o l a t e t h e Due P r o c e s s C l a u s e as a p e r se m a t t e r . S e e , e . g . , F a i r b a n k s v . M c C a r t e r , 330 Md. 39, 4 9 - 5 0 , 622 A.2d 121, 126-127 (1993) (interpreting besti n t e r e s t standard i n grandparent v i s i t a t i o n statute n o r m a l l y to r e q u i r e c o u r t ' s c o n s i d e r a t i o n of c e r t a i n factors); Williams v. Williams, 256 Va. 19, 501 S.E.2d 417, 418 (1998) (interpreting Virginia n o n p a r e n t a l v i s i t a t i o n s t a t u t e to r e q u i r e f i n d i n g of harm as condition precedent to awarding visitation)." 530 U.S. at 69-74 (emphasis is the requisite missing statute in concerning question such "substantial" It is requiring due that herein provide link -- from the that requests the must what I The contend grandparent-visitation wishes be omitted). of given f i t parent(s) "material" and weight. only to the statutory " s p e c i a l weight" decision regarding result footnote from Troxel above-emphasized p o r t i o n s added; that be omission given to grandparent v i s i t a t i o n that the Alabama 103 a of language f i t parent's I concur i n Grandparent V i s i t a t i o n Act the as 1090883 written that i s unconstitutional. the t r i a l grandparent court "shall i s i n the best S e c t i o n 30-3-4.1(d)(6) determine interests i f visitation of living" court only shall at the end of a list of factors The trial facts court, parents" in encouraged the are, to this interests children support and the created, Then, inability between grandparents. loving in to to To who trial of the court give wishes. found regrettable. nurtured, relationship a c l o s e and resources o p i n i o n , as least, and t h e g r a n d p a r e n t s understatement. grandparents' say paternal established to the f i t parents' i n the main case the s p e c i a l children's parents their recited yet i t the c h i l d , without s t a t u t o r i l y mandating that the t r i a l weight" the o f any p a r e n t consider i n determining the best any T r o x e l " s p e c i a l by the c h i l d , " i n c l u d e s as a f a c t o r t o c o n s i d e r " t h e w i s h e s is requires by the The " f i t cultivated, and the c h i l d r e n and say that these relationship between i s the p r o v e r b i a l classic apparent retaliation for continue to financial the 104 provide " f i t parents," the the parents 1090883 callously under pulled the carpet the f e e t of t h e i r I exhort subject of the Alabama weight" have legislation grandparental love out visitation, in show t h a t an takes into account the State from Troxel, albeit 105 a plurality by "special- d i r e c t i o n regarding the wishes of a f i tparent received the appropriate i s the favored p o l i c y of t h i s that from children. L e g i s l a t u r e to again grandparent constitutional setting, providing own of that decision. we 1090883 SHAW, J u s t i c e I concur ( c o n c u r r i n g i n the i n the result result). reached by the main opinion. I a g r e e w i t h t h e h o l d i n g by t h e C o u r t o f C i v i l J . W . J . v . P.K.R., 976 that, So. 2d 1035, ( A l a . C i v . App. " [ i ] n o r d e r t o meet t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l out i n T r o x e l [v. G r a n v i l l e , Grandparent Visitation presumption Act U.S. 57 ('the requirements (2000)], the Act') when d e t e r m i n i n g w h e t h e r grandparent. App. 530 2 4 ] must I n R.S.C. v . 2001), the then contained no regarding existent grandparent presumption J.B.C., presumption in unconstitutional a plurality, version favor visitation i n f a v o r of awarding as So. of and 2d of contain a 361 the such v i s i t a t i o n , applied. The main Act, Ala. 1975, § 30-3-4.1. 106 by a decision provided was opinion, a h e l d to which stated: Code best which "The f u n d a m e n t a l r i g h t o f a f i t p a r e n t t o d e c i d e t h e i s s u e of u n s u p e r v i s e d g r a n d p a r e n t a l v i s i t a t i o n , i n t h e absence of harm or p o t e n t i a l harm t o t h e c h i l d 2 4 a (Ala. Civ. parent's instead set [Alabama to order v i s i t a t i o n 812 in 2007), that the parent's wishes" are " i n the c h i l d ' s interests" be 1040 Appeals was 1090883 i f such v i s i t a t i o n i s not a l l o w e d , r e q u i r e s more respect f o r the parent's i n i t i a l d e c i s i o n than i s a c h i e v e d by a l l o w i n g a t r i a l c o u r t t o d e c i d e what i s i n t h e 'best i n t e r e s t s ' o f t h e c h i l d and then t o s u b s t i t u t e i t sd e c i s i o n f o r the parent's d e c i s i o n . " R.S.C., 812 So. 2d a t 372. Subsequently, Civ. App. 2002) a plurality, that (plurality noted visitation interest severed was from i n L.B.S. by that a v . L.M.S., 826 opinion), the p o r t i o n grandparent unconstitutional the A c t . the rear determination grandparent, regarding the Court the A c t i n such a i n favor of a f i t parent's to afford a way and that, visitation 826 special visitation of C i v i l of Appeals as t o remedy such presumed due under will best to Troxel, serve the fundamental right Although to the parents' own the the child attempted with to construe defect: " S e c t i o n 3 0 - 3 - 4 . 1 ( d ) , A l a . Code 1 9 7 5 , s e t s f o r t h number o f f a c t o r s f o r t h e c o u r t t o c o n s i d e r i n 107 be t o overcome So. 2d a t 184. weight again child's i s not alone s u f f i c i e n t h i s or her c h i l d r e n . " Act f a i l e d i n the Further, i t noted best i n t e r e s t of the c h i l d to of the Act that i t s face "the d e t e r m i n a t i o n that grandparent the presumption the main o p i n i o n , was on S o . 2 d 178 ( A l a . 1090883 determining whether t o award visitation to the petitioning grandparents. Most significantly, § 30-3-4.1(d)(6) provides f o r the consideration of '[o]ther relevant factors in the particular circumstances.' Although the factors l i s t e d in § 30-3-4.1(d) do not specifically mention the c o n s i d e r a t i o n o f a p a r e n t ' s own d e t e r m i n a t i o n w i t h respect to the c h i l d , the factors also do n o t s p e c i f i c a l l y e x c l u d e t h a t f a c t o r as a c o n s i d e r a t i o n . We c o n c l u d e t h a t t h e r e q u i r e m e n t t h a t t h e c o u r t consider 'other relevant factors' under § 30-3-4.1(d) a l l o w s the c o u r t s t o g i v e g r e a t weight, as i t m u s t , t o a p a r e n t ' s d e c i s i o n r e g a r d i n g s u c h visitation i n determining whether to grant a grandparent v i s i t a t i o n . This presumption i n favor of a f i t parent's decision regarding grandparent v i s i t a t i o n w i l l p l a c e a heightened burden of proof on the grandparent petitioning for visitation. Because the fundamental right of a parent i s at issue, a grandparent seeking v i s i t a t i o n bears the burden of showing, by c l e a r and c o n v i n c i n g e v i d e n c e , t h a t t h e b e s t i n t e r e s t of t h e c h i l d i s s e r v e d by awarding grandparent v i s i t a t i o n . ... We conclude t h a t the language of § 30-3-4.1(d) a l l o w s the t r i a l c o u r t , on a c a s e - b y - c a s e b a s i s , t o c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l y apply Alabama's grandparent-visitation statute within the l i m i t a t i o n s expressed i n this opinion." L.B.S., 826 S o . 2 d a t 1 8 6 - 8 7 After L.B.S., the Court of the l e g i s l a t u r e (citation omitted). Civil Appeals undertook decided R.C.S. t o amend t h e A c t : " I n 2 0 0 3 , t h e L e g i s l a t u r e e n a c t e d A c t No. 2 0 0 3 - 3 8 3 , Ala. A c t s 2003, i n response to the i n f i r m i t i e s i d e n t i f i e d by t h i s c o u r t i n t h e a f t e r m a t h o f T r o x e l . F i r s t , i n A c t No. 2 0 0 3 - 3 8 3 , t h e L e g i s l a t u r e r e m o v e d 108 and 1090883 the p o r t i o n of § 3 0 - 3 - 4 . 1 ( e ) t h a t had p r o v i d e d that ' [ t ] h e r e s h a l l be a r e b u t t a b l e p r e s u m p t i o n i n f a v o r o f v i s i t a t i o n b y a n y g r a n d p a r e n t . ' ... S e c o n d , t h e L e g i s l a t u r e s p e c i f i c a l l y a m e n d e d § 3 0 - 3 - 4 . 1 ( d ) so as t o i n c l u d e ' t h e w i s h e s o f a n y p a r e n t who i s l i v i n g ' among t h e f a c t o r s t o be c o n s i d e r e d in determining whether the best i n t e r e s t s of a c h i l d would be s e r v e d by a w a r d i n g g r a n d p a r e n t a l v i s i t a t i o n , m a k i n g e x p l i c i t what the main o p i n i o n i n L.B.S. had h e l d t o be i m p l i c i t i n t h e g e n e r a l d i r e c t i o n i n f o r m e r § 30-3-4.1(d)(6) that t r i a l courts are to consider '[o]ther relevant factors' in their best-interests calculus." Dodd v. Burleson, (plurality 932 So. 2d 912, 919 (Ala. Civ. App. 2005) opinion). A majority affirmed this rectified any of the Court of C i v i l rationale facial and held A p p e a l s has that the subsequently 2003 u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i t y found amendment i n the Act: "In 2003, the legislature amended the G r a n d p a r e n t V i s i t a t i o n A c t . See A c t No. 2003-383, Ala. A c t s 2 0 0 3 . Among o t h e r c h a n g e s , t h e l e g i s l a t u r e deleted the presumption i n favor of grandparent v i s i t a t i o n d e c l a r e d u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i n R.S.C. [ v . J . B . C . , 812 So. 2d 361 ( A l a . C i v . App. 2001),] and expanded s u b s e c t i o n 30-3-4.1 to r e q u i r e the trial c o u r t t o c o n s i d e r , when m a k i n g i t s b e s t - i n t e r e s t s determination, '[o]ther relevant factors in the p a r t i c u l a r circumstances, i n c l u d i n g the wishes of a n y p a r e n t who i s l i v i n g . ' ( E m p h a s i s a d d e d . ) I n D o d d v. B u r l e s o n , 932 So. 2d 9 1 2 , 919 (Ala. Civ. App. 2005), a majority of this court construed the a m e n d e d s t a t u t e as h a v i n g e x p l i c i t l y adopted the 109 1090883 presumption i n favor of the parent's visitation d e c i s i o n f i r s t r e c o g n i z e d i n L . B . S . [ v . L.M.S., 826 So. 2 d 178 ( A l a . C i v . A p p . 2002)]. "[T]he c u r r e n t Grandparent V i s i t a t i o n A c t does not expressly state that the parent's visitation d e c i s i o n s h a l l be p r e s u m e d t o b e i n t h e c h i l d ' s b e s t i n t e r e s t s . R a t h e r , as w r i t t e n , t h e s t a t u t e simply requires the t r i a l court to consider the parent's wishes along with other f a c t o r s without s p e c i f y i n g that any p a r t i c u l a r f a c t o r should be g i v e n any g r e a t e r w e i g h t . However, as s t a t e d i n L.B.S.: "'Our supreme c o u r t has r e c o g n i z e d that "[a] statute may be enacted without c o n t a i n i n g [a] p r o v i s i o n f o r c o n s t i t u t i o n a l r e q u i r e m e n t s b u t i n s u c h t e r m s as n o t t o e x c l u d e them and t o j u s t i f y t h e c o u r t i n h o l d i n g t h a t i t was i n t e n d e d t o be s u b j e c t t o t h o s e r e q u i r e m e n t s , w h i c h s h o u l d t h e n be treated as a f e a t u r e o f i t . " Almon v. M o r g a n C o u n t y , 245 A l a . 2 4 1 , 2 4 6 , 16 S o . 2 d 5 1 1 , 516 (1944).' "826 So. 2d at 185. In order to meet the c o n s t i t u t i o n a l r e q u i r e m e n t s s e t out i n T r o x e l [v. G r a n v i l l e , 530 U.S. 57 (2000 ) ] , t h e s t a t u t e must contain a presumption that the parent's wishes are p r e s u m e d t o be i n t h e c h i l d ' s b e s t i n t e r e s t s . In L.B.S. and Dodd, this court has treated that p r e s u m p t i o n a s an i m p l i e d p a r t o f § 30-3-4.1(d)(6). T h u s , t h e i m p l i e d p r e s u m p t i o n i s a s much a f e a t u r e o f t h e s t a t u t e as i t s p l a i n l a n g u a g e . C o n s e q u e n t l y , t h e s t a t u t e i s n o t u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l on i t s f a c e , a s the f a t h e r argues, f o r f a i l i n g to e x p r e s s l y i n c l u d e a presumption i n favor of a parent's visitation decisions." 110 1090883 J.W.J., 976 To Act me, can So. the be parent's attempts 2d at 1039-40. dispositive construed the have struggled of Civil Appeals to do its constitutionality of an a c t , we validity seek down. and House v. Further, to sustain Court's with the laudable So. 71 (Ala. 1992). construction 2d 69, Id. 246 a t 72 ( q u o t i n g A l a b a m a S t a t e F e d ' n o f L a b o r v . A l a . 1, 10, 18 So. 2d 8 1 0 , 815 (1944)). That unambiguous, anything clearly other even there than expressed S u b u r b a n Gas, so then i f unconstitutional. to no room for the courts effect to the legislature's give 729 So. DeKalb 2d unambiguous See Budget 270, County 275 language Inn 111 ambiguous; McAdory, said, we i t is is such a c o n s t r u c t i o n . when intent. Inc., the only permit'" i t constitution,'" only statute presume strike but a a than of a s t a t u t e to b r i n g i t i n t o harmony w i t h the "construe" to "'to adopt the duty " ' i f i t s language w i l l weight i t rather C u l l m a n C o u n t y , 593 i t is this proper the so. the the i s whether I In r e v i e w i n g give case as Court to in this so decision. of issue of Gas i t is to do Co. v. (Ala. 1998). This is renders statute Daphne, LP i f the Inc. v. City of 1090883 Daphne, the 789 S o . 2 d 1 5 4 , 160 only one allowed by ( A l a . 2000) the ("This unambiguous language s t a t u t e , imposes c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l y i m p e r m i s s i b l e the use and enjoyment against the great R.S.C. weight and L.B.S., amendment, special and weight When after Court the by properties and stands As n o t e d b y o f t h e A c t , b e f o r e t h e 2003 i n favor of v i s i t a t i o n by in presumption the legislature of R.S.C. a n d L . B . S . , created no the l i m i t a t i o n s on authority."). a presumption afforded of or favor of t o be a c c o r d e d a f i t p a r e n t ' s d e c i s i o n i n s u c h matters. the of l e g a l the language included grandparents of nonconforming construction, Civil undertook Appeals i t corrected presumption issued to amend i t s decisions the c o n s t i t u t i o n a l allowing the Act in infirmity visitation, but i t d e c l i n e d t o i n c l u d e any language a c k n o w l e d g i n g t h e p r e s u m p t i o n afforded a decision, simply f i t parent's though relegated allowed intended acknowledged, t o one to consider. what § decision. o f many was, Instead, by factors a f i t parent's the p l a i n the t r i a l language, court is I can o n l y conclude t h a t the l e g i s l a t u r e 30-3-4.1 states 112 on i t s face. There was no 1090883 room for further judicial construction amendment. Because the l e g i s l a t u r e , explicitly remedied identified above, decision, factor, so gave as t o g i v e agree that not provide. its face, Stuart, recognizing no m o r e w e i g h t decision 2003 when i t a m e n d e d t h e A c t , a the weight defects f i t parent's than t h e A c t c a n be f u r t h e r I agree that and I t h e r e f o r e the of the c o n s t i t u t i o n a l decision a parent's did one and, a l t h o u g h that I cannot only after any other construed the l e g i s l a t u r e t h e A c t i s u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l on concur J . , concurs. 113 i n the r e s u l t . 1090883 MAIN, Justice The Code Alabama Grandparent 1975 three (dissenting). ("the A c t " ) , distinct grandparents. attempt, groups of the Historically, have been criminally itself into incompetent do children, parents, i s contested, to determine opinion the has f o c u s e d or the on t h e r i g h t s of t h a n on t h e b e s t i n t e r e s t s o f t h e c h i l d r e n . minor children treated affairs and mentally d i f f e r e n t l y from The of state incompetent competent necessarily children and the competent n o t make d e c i s i o n s environment. 114 developed injects mentally their restraints adults. i n t h e same m a n n e r a s do a d u l t s a r e n o t as n e u r o l o g i c a l l y adults, because them more v u l n e r a b l e t h a n their and the best parents and t h e i r e n v i r o n m e n t a l "escape" of the Act i s a l e g i s l a t i v e differences children to form, the r e l a t i o n s h i p when t h e y a r e i n n e e d o f p r o t e c t i o n developmental render people: and c i v i l l y . the around children--not The m a i n the parents r a t h e r both of In i t s present grandparents. persons revolves when v i s i t a t i o n interests V i s i t a t i o n A c t , § 30-3-4.1, A l a . Children because and a r e n o t f r e e I t i s clear that the law 1090883 treats children question thus differently becomes: than What is i t the treats adults; appropriate standard i n t e r p r e t i n g s t a t u t e s c o n c e r n e d w i t h c h i l d r e n ? As n o t e d few examples both this that Court juveniles f o l l o w , Alabama and the differently United from statutes States adults and civil in i n the caselaw from Court treat Supreme i n both the and criminal death penalty. matters. (1) See Ex Juveniles parte Roper Adams, v. capital-murder defendant (2) The imposing 955 possibility the eligible So. 2d 543 for 1106 (Ala. 2005), U.S. imposition the 551 of reached United States penalty of p a r o l e other "Roper than [v. the of on age the of Supreme life death (holding penalty committed Court recently held imprisonment 543 without U.S. that the unconstitutional for 551 (2005),] established t h a t because j u v e n i l e s have lessened culpability they are less deserving of the most severe punishments. 543 U.S., a t 569. As c o m p a r e d 115 for before offenses: Simmons, on 18). a j u v e n i l e was homicide relying (2005) d e f e n d a n t s when t h e m u r d e r was had a offenses not Simmons, unconstitutional the are 1090883 to a d u l t s , j u v e n i l e s have a ' " l a c k o f m a t u r i t y and an u n d e r d e v e l o p e d s e n s e o f r e s p o n s i b i l i t y " ' ; they 'are more v u l n e r a b l e or susceptible to negative influences and o u t s i d e p r e s s u r e s , i n c l u d i n g peer pressure'; and t h e i r c h a r a c t e r s a r e 'not as w e l l formed.' Id., at 569-570. These salient c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s mean t h a t ' [ i ] t i s d i f f i c u l t even for expert psychologists to d i f f e r e n t i a t e between the juvenile offender whose crime reflects unfortunate yet transient immaturity, and t h e r a r e j u v e n i l e o f f e n d e r whose c r i m e r e f l e c t s i r r e p a r a b l e corruption.' I d . , a t 573. Accordingly, 'juvenile offenders cannot with reliability be classified among t h e w o r s t offenders.' I d . , a t 569. A j u v e n i l e i s not absolved of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o rh i s a c t i o n s , b u t h i s t r a n s g r e s s i o n ' i s n o t as m o r a l l y r e p r e h e n s i b l e a s t h a t o f an a d u l t . ' Thompson [ v . O k l a h o m a , 487 U.S. 8 1 5 , ] 835 [ ( 1 9 8 8 ) ] (plurality opinion). "No r e c e n t d a t a p r o v i d e r e a s o n t o r e c o n s i d e r t h e Court's observations i n Roper about the nature of juveniles. As p e t i t i o n e r ' s amici point out, developments in psychology and brain science continue t o show f u n d a m e n t a l d i f f e r e n c e s b e t w e e n j u v e n i l e and a d u l t minds. For example, p a r t s of the brain involved i n behavior control continue to mature through l a t e adolescence. See B r i e f f o r A m e r i c a n M e d i c a l A s s o c i a t i o n e t a l . as A m i c i Curiae 16-24; B r i e f f o r A m e r i c a n P s y c h o l o g i c a l A s s o c i a t i o n e t a l . as A m i c i C u r i a e 22-27. J u v e n i l e s a r e more c a p a b l e o f change than a r e a d u l t s , and t h e i r a c t i o n s a r e l e s s l i k e l y t o be e v i d e n c e o f 'irretrievably depraved character' than are the a c t i o n s of a d u l t s . R o p e r , 543 U.S., a t 570. I t remains true that ' [ f ] r o m a m o r a l s t a n d p o i n t i t w o u l d be m i s g u i d e d t o equate the f a i l i n g s of a minor with those o f an adult, f o r a greater possibility exists that a 116 1090883 m i n o r ' s c h a r a c t e r d e f i c i e n c i e s w i l l be reformed.' Ibid. These m a t t e r s r e l a t e to the s t a t u s of the offenders in question; and i t is relevant to c o n s i d e r next the n a t u r e of the o f f e n s e s to which t h i s harsh p e n a l t y might apply. fl "It f o l l o w s t h a t , when c o m p a r e d t o an adult m u r d e r e r , a j u v e n i l e o f f e n d e r who d i d not k i l l or intend to kill has a twice diminished moral culpability. The age o f t h e o f f e n d e r a n d t h e n a t u r e o f t h e c r i m e e a c h b e a r on t h e a n a l y s i s . " Graham v. Florida, U.S. , , 130 S. Ct. 2011, 2026 (2010). (3) A s e p a r a t e than 436 for adults (1966), 2003), and (4) treatment et seq., advisement of r i g h t s a p p l i e s f o r j u v e n i l e s with rights. regard See Ex to Miranda parte § 1 2 - 1 5 - 2 0 2 , A l a . Code An individual by under a A l a . Code legally products. Arizona, 863 So. U.S. 1079 (Ala. certain age may apply See for § 15-19-1 1975. permitted See 2d 384 1975. t h e c o u r t s as a y o u t h f u l o f f e n d e r . (5) A g e - b a s e d r e s t r i c t i o n s is Hall, v. to exist purchase as t o when an and § 2 8 - 1 - 5 , A l a . Code 1975. 117 to individual consume Additionally, alcohol adults 1090883 may face criminal minors at open charges house with regard parties. to p r o v i d i n g a l c o h o l to See 13A-11-10.1, A l a . Code 1975. See a l s o Owens v . S t a t e , 19 S o . 3d 252 ( A l a .Crim. App. 2009) (parents 13A-11-10.1 for hosting party convicted at their w h i c h m i n o r s consumed of v i o l a t i o n residence permitted roadways. Code to See their property at alcohol). lawfully §§ § on and (6) A g e - b a s e d r e s t r i c t i o n s e x i s t is of operate 32-6-3(a), a s t o when a n motorized 32-6-7, individual v e h i c l e s on 32-6-7.2, the 32-6-8, A l a . 1975. (7) Age-based restrictions apply contract to marriage: t h e minimum contract to marriage i s 16 1975, and t h e c o n s e n t individuals see § 3 0 - 1 - 5 , A l a . Code Courts contravention child's at least may of years, 16 y e a r s § to a person may 30-1-4, or a guardian o f age ability A l a . Code i s required a n d u n d e r 18 years, 1975. order the the at which see of the parents for (8) age to medical parents' health i s at stake. treatment religious § 26-14-7.2, 118 for a beliefs A l a . Code child when 1975. in the 1090883 (9) W i t h and regard to c h i l d p r o v i s i o n s apply those 986 over the age ( A l a . 1989), for of Furthermore, Alabama governed relationship, and has (1) J.R., 896 standard (2) to be D.B., the So. i s the 2d governs In under age of 550 been 416 the 19 and So. best the 2d rights, of ( A l a . 2004) the January (Ala. C i v . App. 1975, "allowing a juvenile of the the of 2011] court, after child. Ex parte rights). appropriate standard the Ex child. So. 3d parte , Ala. adjudicating a o t h e r o r d e r as t h e j u v e n i l e 119 child: overriding (applying § 12-15-314(a)(4), '[m]ake any these (best-interests-of-the-child interests 21, parent-child the t e r m i n a t i o n of p a r e n t a l [Ms. have courts in interests interests best caselaw our parental best 2011) of a p p l i e d by the a p p l i e d i s the 20 9 0 8 3 1 , and aspects dependency p r o c e e d i n g s , dependent, to the requirements Bayliss, parte statutes standard terminating consideration Ex certain consistently In See different i t s progeny. historically cases children 19. and support, Code child court i n 1090883 its discretion interests shall deem be a p p l i e d Bryowsky, child f o r the welfare proceedings, i s the best the appropriate interests of the c h i l d . applied i n original custody joint standard (modification and Ex of parte parte (ifprior judgment subsequent Murphy, prior 670 custody prove custody-modification So. award not only 2d 51 ( A l a . 1995) requires a that material party change in but also that the modification w i l l m a t e r i a l l y the best disruptive be Ex custody, b e s t - i n t e r e s t s - o f - t h e - c h i l d in modification circumstances, (4) physical applies proceeding); promote standard d e t e r m i n a t i o n ) ; Ex p a r t e B l a c k s t o c k , 47 S o . 3 d 801 ( A l a . 2 0 0 9 ) seeking best 676 S o . 2 d 1322 ( A l a . 1 9 9 6 ) ( b e s t - i n t e r e s t s - o f - t h e - standard awarded and of the c h i l d ' " ) . (3) I n many c u s t o d y to t o be effect interests of the c h i l d , of uprooting In adoption interests - 2 5 , A l a . Code 1 9 7 5 . 120 o f f s e t t i n g the the c h i l d ) . proceedings, applied i s the best thus the appropriate of the c h i l d . standard §§ to 26-10A-24 1090883 (5) apply When a minor seeks an the best-interests-of-the-minor whether the minor § 26-21-4(f)(2), The parents, focus child main must first obtain abortion, standard parental to consent. See A l a . Code 1 9 7 5 . opinion on t h e b e s t construction courts determine focuses on t h e l i b e r t y interest a l m o s t as t h o u g h t h e c h i l d r e n were c h a t t e l . Moreover, of the I would i n t e r e s t s of the c h i l d . i t is a well that when settled this rule Court c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i t y of a s t a t u t e , i tshould the the first of statutory reviews seek t o uphold statute. " I n M o n r o e v . H a r c o , I n c . , 762 S o . 2 d 8 2 8 , 831 (Ala. 2000), t h i s Court r e s t a t e d the long-standing rules governing review of acts of the L e g i s l a t u r e under c o n s t i t u t i o n a l a t t a c k : " ' " I n r e v i e w i n g [a q u e s t i o n r e g a r d i n g ] the constitutionality o f a s t a t u t e , we 'approach the question with every p r e s u m p t i o n and intendment i n f a v o r o f i t s v a l i d i t y , and seek t o s u s t a i n r a t h e r than s t r i k e down t h e e n a c t m e n t o f a c o o r d i n a t e branch of the government.'" Moore v. M o b i l e I n f i r m a r y A s s ' n , 592 S o . 2 d 1 5 6 , 159 (Ala. 1991) ( q u o t i n g A l a b a m a S t a t e Fed'n o f L a b o r v . M c A d o r y , 2 4 6 A l a . 1, 9, 18 S o . 2 d 8 1 0 , 815 ( 1 9 4 4 ) ) . Moreover, "[w]here the 121 the 1090883 v a l i d i t y o f a s t a t u t e i s a s s a i l e d and t h e r e a r e two p o s s i b l e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s , b y one o f w h i c h t h e s t a t u t e w o u l d be u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l and b y t h e o t h e r w o u l d be v a l i d , t h e c o u r t s s h o u l d adopt t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n [that] would uphold i t . " M c A d o r y , 2 4 6 A l a . a t 1 0 , 18 So. 2 d a t 8 1 5 . I n McAdory, t h i s Court further stated: "'"[I]n passing upon the c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i t y of a legislative a c t , the courts u n i f o r m l y approach the q u e s t i o n with every presumption and intendment in favor of i t s validity, and seek to sustain rather than strike down the enactment of a c o o r d i n a t e branch of t h e government. A l l these principles a r e embraced i n t h e simple statement that i t i s the recognized duty of the court to sustain the act unless i t i s clear beyond reasonable doubt that i t i s violative of the fundamental law." "'246 A l a . a t 9, 18 S o . 2 d a t 815 ( c i t a t i o n omitted). We m u s t a f f o r d t h e L e g i s l a t u r e the highest degree of deference, and construe i t s acts as c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i f t h e i r l a n g u a g e so p e r m i t s . I d . ' " Rice v. E n g l i s h , 835 S o . 2 d 1 5 7 , 1 6 3 - 6 4 I n E.H.G. v E.R.G., 3d , ( A l a . 2002). [Ms. 2 0 7 1 0 6 1 , M a r c h ( A l a . C i v . App. 2010), 122 12, 2010] So. t h e Alabama Court o f C i v i l 1090883 Appeals upheld However, the standard of the Act Court of against Civil "harm" t h a t a constitutional Appeals i s not found engrafted i n the on challenge. the Act a statute. "As presently drafted, the Act requires a trial court i n a g r a n d p a r e n t - v i s i t a t i o n case to consider '[o]ther relevant factors in the particular circumstances ' A l a . Code 1975, § 3 0 - 3 - 4 . 1 ( d ) ( 6 ) . S i n c e we h o l d t h a t a s h o w i n g o f h a r m t o t h e child resulting from the denial of visitation is a p r e r e q u i s i t e t o any a w a r d o f v i s i t a t i o n u n d e r the A c t , we c o n c l u d e t h a t s u b s e c t i o n (d)(6) n e c e s s a r i l y e n c o m p a s s e s t h a t s h o w i n g as a ' r e l e v a n t f a c t o r ' a n d t h a t the Act i s , t h e r e f o r e , f a c i a l l y v a l i d . See L . B . S . [ v . L . M . S . ] , 826 So. 2d [ 1 7 8 , ] 185 [(Ala. C i v . App. 2002)] ( h o l d i n g t h a t the j u d i c i a r y c o u l d adopt a c o n s t r u c t i o n of a s t a t u t e t h a t would u p h o l d its constitutionality). We e m p h a s i z e , h o w e v e r , t h a t t h e s h o w i n g o f h a r m i s n o t t o be w e i g h e d a l o n g w i t h the other f a c t o r s i n § 3 0 - 3 - 4 . 1 ( d ) ( 6 ) . Rather, ... a court considering a petition for grandparent v i s i t a t i o n must f i r s t presume the c o r r e c t n e s s of the d e c i s i o n o f a f i t , n a t u r a l , c u s t o d i a l p a r e n t as t o g r a n d p a r e n t v i s i t a t i o n and then determine whether t h e p e t i t i o n i n g g r a n d p a r e n t has p r e s e n t e d c l e a r and c o n v i n c i n g e v i d e n c e t h a t the d e n i a l of the r e q u e s t e d v i s i t a t i o n w i l l harm the c h i l d . I f so, the court may then weigh the other statutory factors to determine the mode and extent of grandparent v i s i t a t i o n n e c e s s a r y t o a l l e v i a t e the harm t o the c h i l d w i t h o u t f u r t h e r i n f r i n g i n g on t h e f u n d a m e n t a l r i g h t s of the parents." So. a 3d standard at that (emphasis did not added). exist 123 at That the court time of thus applied trial as the 1090883 basis f o r reversing the t r i a l trial court never trial court awarded without the considered, at . standard grafting Civil as rejecting written by decided 855 the trial the legislature into So. t h e A c t and o f harm t o t h e c h i l d , the Court of a n d Dodd v . 573 (Tenn. The C o u r t o f C i v i l i n Troxel v. plurality Appeals r e l i e d b y t h e Supreme C o u r t S.W.2d opinion court best-interests-of-the-child the Court of C i v i l heavily of Tennessee, Hawk v . 1993), i n which the court g r a n d p a r e n t - v i s i t a t i o n s t a t u t e because was i n c o n s i s t e n t w i t h plurality the 932 S o . 2 d 912 ( A l a . C i v . A p p . 2 0 0 5 ) , Instead, a case grounded harm, t o d e p a r t f r o m i t s p r i o r d e c i s i o n s i n Dodd i n v a l i d a t e d Tennessee's it of grandparents 967 S o . 2 d 715 ( A l a . C i v . A p p . 2 0 0 7 ) , b o t h decisions. Hawk, "[b]ecause the applied the Act to the parents." Appeals chose Burleson, that to the paternal showing onto i t a standard v. B u r l e s o n , on In concluding visitation requisite unconstitutionally 3d c o u r t ' s j u d g m e n t on a g r o u n d t h e Tennessee's constitution. Appeals' reasoning Granville, i n which 530 the United 124 i n E.H.G. was a l s o U.S. States 57 (2000 ), Supreme a Court 1090883 reviewed person a Washington could any time, any person of The petition and t h a t it the court found statute unconstitutionally right control stated, a court the could The "harm" Code at concluded and rights to interest of Washington. broad nonparentalthat i t i n f r i n g e d on t h e p e t i t i o n e r ' s f u n d a m e n t a l the court regarding The opinion and, i n f a c t , the care, problem, had i n t e r v e n e d , of her daughters' best standard any the best state her children. plurality serve Revised d i d s o , i t g a v e no s p e c i a l w e i g h t 68. that a child with Washington overly was n o t t h a t determination provided award v i s i t a t i o n "may t o make d e c i s i o n s of that forvisitation § 26.10.160(3), plurality visitation and statute when s u c h v i s i t a t i o n the c h i l d . " parental state the custody, plurality "but that at a l l to [the parent's] interests." i n Troxel 530 U.S. a t d i d not e s t a b l i s h d i d not consider i t . " B e c a u s e we r e s t o u r d e c i s i o n o n t h e s w e e p i n g b r e a d t h of § 26.10.160(3) and t h e a p p l i c a t i o n o f t h a t b r o a d , u n l i m i t e d p o w e r i n t h i s c a s e , we do n o t consider the primary c o n s t i t u t i o n a l question passed on b y t h e W a s h i n g t o n S u p r e m e C o u r t - - w h e t h e r t h e Due Process Clause requires a l l nonparental visitation s t a t u t e s t o i n c l u d e a s h o w i n g o f harm o r p o t e n t i a l harm t o t h e c h i l d as a c o n d i t i o n p r e c e d e n t t o 125 when a 1090883 granting visitation. We do not, and need not, d e f i n e today the p r e c i s e scope of the p a r e n t a l due p r o c e s s r i g h t i n the v i s i t a t i o n c o n t e x t . In t h i s respect, we agree with J u s t i c e KENNEDY t h a t the constitutionality of any standard for awarding v i s i t a t i o n turns on t h e s p e c i f i c m a n n e r i n w h i c h t h a t s t a n d a r d i s a p p l i e d and t h a t t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l p r o t e c t i o n s i n t h i s area are best ' e l a b o r a t e d with care.' Post, at [101] (dissenting opinion). Because much state-court adjudication in this c o n t e x t o c c u r s on a c a s e - b y - c a s e b a s i s , we w o u l d be hesitant to hold that specific nonparental v i s i t a t i o n s t a t u t e s v i o l a t e t h e Due Process Clause as a p e r se m a t t e r . " 530 U.S. at 73 (footnote In h i s d i s s e n t that i t was standard in harm i s not pass in Troxel, unnecessary that case, required omitted). for but J u s t i c e Stevens not the also Court to concluded consider that only a noted "harm" a showing of for a grandparent-visitation statute to c o n s t i t u t i o n a l muster. "The s e c o n d k e y a s p e c t o f t h e W a s h i n g t o n S u p r e m e Court's holding--that the Federal Constitution r e q u i r e s a s h o w i n g o f a c t u a l o r p o t e n t i a l 'harm' t o the child before a court may order visitation continued over a parent's objections--finds no s u p p o r t i n t h i s C o u r t ' s case law. W h i l e , as the Court r e c o g n i z e s , the F e d e r a l C o n s t i t u t i o n c e r t a i n l y protects the parent-child relationship from a r b i t r a r y i m p a i r m e n t by t h e S t a t e , see i n f r a this page and [ 8 8 - 8 9 , ] we have never held that the p a r e n t ' s l i b e r t y i n t e r e s t i n t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p i s so 126 1090883 inflexible as t o e s t a b l i s h a r i g i d c o n s t i t u t i o n a l s h i e l d , p r o t e c t i n g every a r b i t r a r y parental decision from any c h a l l e n g e absent a threshold f i n d i n g of harm." 530 U.S. a t 8 5 - 8 6 (Stevens, J . ,dissenting) (emphasis J u s t i c e K e n n e d y came t o a s i m i l a r c o n c l u s i o n Troxel. 530 U.S. a t 93 (Kennedy, nine Justices found application o f a harm the of source statute any holding proof that flaw i n the Washington in visitation would accorded The at Troxel was n o t be no d e f e r e n c e . " main fundamental 'care, Troxel that custody, (quoting state "a 530 U.S. i f i t requires pointed parent's by decision the that i n t e r e s t [was] "[t]he t o make d e c i s i o n s 530 U.S. out The a t 67. emphasizes 127 considered w o u l d harm t h e c h i l d . and c o n t r o l ' o f t h e i r Troxel, be the grandparent-visitation i n the c h i l d ' s best of parents seven address cannot statute that opinion right a to c o n s t i t u t i o n a l only a denial of v i s i t a t i o n plurality d e c i s i o n and because i t unnecessary standard, c a n be c o n s i d e r e d i n h i sdissent i n J.,dissenting). B e c a u s e T r o x e l was a p l u r a l i t y of added). substantive regarding children." at 66). The m a i n the So. 3d opinion 1090883 concludes that the Act i s u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i n i t s e n t i r e t y b e c a u s e no p a r t o f t h e A c t " d e f e r s the parent or to to the fundamental r i g h t of the presumption i n favor of decisions regarding grandparent v i s i t a t i o n . " I disagree. on interests So. 3d a t and with a that a determination grandparent would be regarding in a s h o u l d b e made on a c a s e - b y - c a s e b a s i s . originally parent's . I would hold that the A c t i s not u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i t s face visitation a enacted i n 1999, p r o v i d e d , whether child's The A c t , a s i n pertinent part: "(d) Upon t h e f i l i n g o f an o r i g i n a l a c t i o n o r upon i n t e r v e n t i o n i n an e x i s t i n g p r o c e e d i n g pursuant to subsections (b) a n d ( c ) , t h e c o u r t s h a l l grant any g r a n d p a r e n t o f t h e c h i l d r e a s o n a b l e visitation r i g h t s i fthe court f i n d s that the best i n t e r e s t s of t h e c h i l d w o u l d be s e r v e d b y t h e v i s i t a t i o n . In determining the best interest of the c h i l d , the court s h a l l consider the following: fl "(6) Other r e l e v a n t particular circumstances. factors i n the "(e) The c o u r t shall make s p e c i f i c written f i n d i n g s of fact i n support of i t s r u l i n g s . There shall be a r e b u t t a b l e p r e s u m p t i o n i n favor of v i s i t a t i o n by any g r a n d p a r e n t . ... " 128 best 1090883 § 30-3-4.1, A l a . Code 1975. legislature amended t h e A c t . the Effective Pursuant September 1, 2 0 0 3 , t o t h e 2003 a b o v e - q u o t e d p o r t i o n o f t h e A c t now the amendment, provides: " ( d ) U p o n t h e f i l i n g o f an o r i g i n a l a c t i o n o r u p o n i n t e r v e n t i o n i n an e x i s t i n g p r o c e e d i n g pursuant to subsections (b) and ( c ) , the court shall d e t e r m i n e i f v i s i t a t i o n by t h e g r a n d p a r e n t i s i n t h e best i n t e r e s t s of the c h i l d . V i s i t a t i o n s h a l l not be g r a n t e d i f the v i s i t a t i o n would endanger the p h y s i c a l h e a l t h of the c h i l d or i m p a i r the emotional development of the c h i l d . In d e t e r m i n i n g the best i n t e r e s t s of the c h i l d , the court s h a l l consider the following: "(6) Other r e l e v a n t f a c t o r s i n particular circumstances, including w i s h e s o f a n y p a r e n t who i s l i v i n g . "(e) The court shall f i n d i n g s of f a c t i n support § 3 0 - 3 - 4 . 1 , A l a . Code 1975. to For example, prohibition visitation against would make s p e c i f i c of i t s r u l i n g s . i n the p l u r a l i t y t h e amendment a d d e d grandparental endanger written ... " The 2 0 0 3 amendment was many o f t h e f a c t o r s d i s c u s s e d Troxel. the the the 129 child's responsive decision in t o § 30-3-4.1(d) visitation physical i f health a that or 1090883 impair the c h i l d ' s emotional development. provides in the t r i a l The amendment a l s o court i s to consider the parent's among t h e o t h e r f a c t o r s wishes that 2 5 f o r the court's consideration determining child's best whether interest. grandparent Additionally, visitation i s i n the t h e amendment removed the r e b u t t a b l e presumption i n favor of grandparent from § 30-3-4.1(e). For the foregoing precedent and visitation from t h i s the lack of a reasons and i n t h e f a c e of existing Court and from t h e Court o f C i v i l Appeals requirement a that courts consider standard i n evaluating the grandparent-visitation issue, no need Judge to declare P i t t m a n , who, the Act unconstitutional. I agree i n h i s dissent harm I see stated: i n E.H.G., with "I d i s s e n t . The m a i n o p i n i o n represents a complete d e p a r t u r e from t h e a n a l y t i c a l framework I e s p o u s e d i n t h e m a i n o p i n i o n i n Dodd v . B u r l e s o n , 932 S o . 2 d 912 ( A l a . C i v . A p p . 2 0 0 5 ) , a p p e a l a f t e r I r e c o g n i z e the d i s t i n c t i o n between the r e f u s a l t o g r a n t v i s i t a t i o n i f v i s i t a t i o n w o u l d harm t h e c h i l d and t h e g r a n t i n g of v i s i t a t i o n a g a i n s t the p a r e n t ' s wishes i f the d e p r i v a t i o n of v i s i t a t i o n w o u l d cause harm t o t h e c h i l d . The amendment t o the A c t i s couched i n terms of the former, whereas the d i s c u s s i o n i n T r o x e l and i t s progeny a d d r e s s e s t h e l a t t e r . 2 5 130 1090883 r e m a n d , 967 So. 2d 715 ( A l a . C i v . A p p . 2 0 0 7 ) . As I made c l e a r i n D o d d , T r o x e l v . G r a n v i l l e , 530 U.S. 57, 120 S. C t . 2 0 5 4 , 147 L. E d . 2 d 49 ( 2 0 0 0 ) , d o e s not s t a n d f o r the p r o p o s i t i o n t h a t s t a t e s must adopt a harm s t a n d a r d i n order for their grandparentvisitation s t a t u t e s to conform with due-process guaranties a f f o r d e d by the Fourteenth Amendment. S i n c e T r o x e l was decided, c o u r t s i n a number o f s t a t e s have d e t e r m i n e d - - c o n s i s t e n t w i t h the main o p i n i o n i n D o d d - - t h a t harm to a c h i l d i s not a constitutionally required prerequisite for a g r a n d p a r e n t - v i s i t a t i o n award c o n t r a r y to the wishes of f i t p a r e n t s . I n r e A d o p t i o n o f C.A., 137 P.3d 318, 326-27 ( C o l o . 2 0 0 6 ) ; V i b b e r t v. V i b b e r t , 144 S.W.3d 2 9 2 , 2 9 4 - 9 5 ( K y . C t . A p p . 2004); Rideout v. R i e n d e a u , 761 A . 2 d 2 9 1 , 3 0 0 - 0 1 (Me. 2 0 0 0 ) ; H a r r o l d v . C o l l i e r , 107 O h i o S t . 3d 44, 5 2 , 836 N . E . 2 d 1 1 6 5 , 1172 (2005) ('nothing i n Troxel suggests that a p a r e n t ' s w i s h e s s h o u l d be p l a c e d b e f o r e a c h i l d ' s b e s t i n t e r e s t ' ) ; a n d H i l l e r v . F a u s e y , 588 P a . 342, 3 6 3 - 6 6 , 904 A . 2 d 8 7 5 , 8 8 8 - 9 0 (2006)." 2 6 I would not the standard for d e c i d i n g whether to award v i s i t a t i o n between a g r a n d p a r e n t and "interests" a hold the of the p a r e n t s , grandchild parents. that The in the face Act contains child's i s the of both the best interests, determinative contrary wishes a determination that of a f i t court A c c o r d i n g t o a summary i n t h e g r a n d p a r e n t s ' r e p l y b r i e f , 18 s t a t e s u t i l i z e t h e h a r m s t a n d a r d . A number of o t h e r s t a t e s have r e j e c t e d the harm s t a n d a r d or u t i l i z e the b e s t - i n t e r e s t s of-the-child standard. 2 6 131 1090883 should the not require child would visitation, court § visitation be physically 30-3-4.1(d), of any i n my Therefore, parent view, including parents and the parents, would both not who is requirement visitation living," finding not i n the Act, the trial grandparents and "the 30-3-4.1(d)(6). 30-3- that trial the f o r the continued best consider in § factors endanger that trial case that protect determine living, physical children alienation interests court the the and of then the 132 of submitted the children. of interests wishes that the Moreover, ordered children. found health from right the best c o u r t c o n s i d e r e d the o f whom a r e appointed § the the In the impair t h e i r emotional development. litem that by the Act i s c o n s t i t u t i o n a l . the The e m o t i o n a l l y harmed order factors the children. to a grandparents i f c o u r t reviewed a l l the f a c t o r s b e f o r e us, the t r i a l 4.1(d), or and i n d e c i d i n g whether wishes with a child's of of the visitation children the guardian a written Pursuant or ad report grandparents visitation the was to the between the 1090883 I agree control right is Court, 1128 of that his not so or her right child absolute. aptly (Ala. a parent's is As stated in to care, fundamental. Justice Ex the parte Bolin, custody, and However, writing M.D.C., 39 So. that for the 3d 1117, 2009): "A p a r e n t h a s a f u n d a m e n t a l l i b e r t y i n t e r e s t i n the care, c u s t o d y , and management of h i s or her child. S a n t o s k y v . K r a m e r , 455 U.S. 745, 753, 102 S. C t . 1 3 8 8 , 71 L. E d . 2d 599 ( 1 9 8 2 ) . However, t h i s i n t e r e s t i s not absolute; i t ' i s l i m i t e d by the c o m p e l l i n g government i n t e r e s t i n the p r o t e c t i o n of c h i l d r e n - - p a r t i c u l a r l y w h e r e t h e c h i l d r e n n e e d t o be protected from their own parents.' Croft v. Westmoreland County C h i l d r e n & Youth Servs., 10 3 F.3d 1123, 1125 (3d C i r . 1 9 9 7 ) . " As described rights of themselves. heretofore, children courts do unlike government The who, has intervene r e l a t i o n s h i p between parents no role cannot no The government does have a r o l e p r o t e c t i n g a c h i l d i f an has disregarded that the main unconstitutional or her opinion, on its responsibility I do face. 133 not they has in i n t e r f e r e with his because conclude I are toward believe that the the protect whatsoever g r a n d p a r e n t s and behavior, protect to Unlike their and adults, to the right adults. the adult child. Act focus is in 1090883 grandparent and visitation, domestic-relations children and interests of that the Civil Act and that to the affirm case the I the to trial grandparents. Cobb, C.J., areas of should standard the juvenile be on the is the best judgment of the Court engrafted Court court's Therefore, that reverse judgment of the of concludes would judicially reversed remand the Alabama, appropriate that portion Appeals that in other child. unconstitutional. judgment i t is in law the I would a f f i r m of as of a the Civil judgment the that harm trial 134 is not of the into the portion standard court, Appeals and I would for that awarding I respectfully concurs. Act court visitation dissent. to