Recently, THSC reviewed the last 20 years of legal cases in Texas to determine how frequently courts were ignoring the rights of families and children.

We found a stunning and systematic disregard for the rights of Texas families over the last two decades. Now, a case before the Texas Supreme Court threatens to grant a stamp of approval on that alarming and dangerous trend.

As we explained with regard to our research findings earlier this year, “In the most disturbing analysis, Texas courts failed to protect parents’ constitutional rights more than 78% of the time in certain types of cases.”

The research indicated that lower courts had routinely placed unconstitutional restrictions on parents’ rights. When those parents could afford to appeal the ruling, however, they stood a good chance of having the ruling overturned by a higher court.

However, the research underscored how often parents had to rely on the higher courts in order to correct what lower courts got wrong. Even more alarming is that a case now before the Texas Supreme Court could jeopardize existing protections, which parents have relied on for the last 20 years to protect their rights from unconstitutional orders in lower courts.

As most of our readers likely know, Chris and his five-year-old daughter Ann are currently battling in the Texas Supreme Court to preserve their rights as a family. An entirely unrelated man who is currently seeking to take custody of Ann.

The man had previously dated, and was briefly engaged to, Ann’s mother before the mother died in a tragic car accident. In total, Ann has spent less than 6 months with the man. Even so, he claims that he should be able to take custody of Ann from Chris, Ann’s biological father.

Chris’ attorney argued before the Texas Supreme Court last month that Chris, as Ann’s biological father, has a fundamental constitutional right to raise her. As the Texas Attorney General wrote last year, nearly 100 years of precedent from the United States Supreme Court makes these rights clear.

Nobody has accused Chris of any wrongdoing. On the contrary, the courts and all parties in the case have agreed that Chris is a fit parent. Nevertheless, this completely unrelated man suing Chris argues that Chris’ constitutional rights should not give him any greater right to custody of Ann.

If the Texas Supreme Court agrees, their decision could jeopardize the legal protections that parents have relied upon when challenging the frequently unconstitutional orders from lower courts.  In a nutshell, not only would the abuse from lower courts likely increase, but higher courts also may not intervene as often to prevent such abuse and protect Texas families.

The systematic, unconstitutional abuse that parents suffer in the lower courts is disturbing enough. The possibility that the Texas Supreme Court may further weaken existing protections for parents is nothing short of alarming.

For that reason, THSC has launched a campaign to help defend Ann and #LetHerStay with her dad. The petition in support of the family has collected nearly 10,000 signatures and the video about their case has nearly 50,000 views.

THSC has filed a brief in the case to support Chris and Ann and is working to recruit additional organizations to do likewise.

For the sake of all Texas families, let’s hope that the Texas Supreme Court does not give its stamp of approval to the already frequent, unconstitutional abuse inflicted by lower courts in Texas.

P.S. Have you seen the video of Chris and Ann’s case? Please share the video on social media to raise awareness of Ann’s case and to help #LetHerStay!

Texas State Historical Association