Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Supreme Court lets stand New York ruling for Debra H.

I wrote extensively about the dreadful New York Court of Appeals decision last year that refused to recognize parentage of a nonbio mom based on the couple's creation of a two-parent family. That court did, however, find that Debra H. was the parent of the child born to Janice R. because the couple was in a Vermont civil union when the child was born. The fact that a child in New York has two parents if the couple is married or in a civil union but otherwise has one parent, no matter how much that couple planned for and raised the child together, was a major impetus for the conference I'm hosting in March on the "New Illegitimacy."

Anyway, Janice asked the US Supreme Court to hear her case, claiming that granting parental status to her civil union partner violated her Constitutional right to raise her biological child. Yesterday, the Court denied her petition. That's what I expected. The Court hears very few cases at all, and very few specifically in the area of family law, which is generally a matter of state law and varies so much from state to state. Other nonbio moms have also been turned away when they've asked the Court to hear their cases. Refusing to hear a case -- which is called a denial of certiorari in legal-speak -- has no legal significance. In other words, it doesn't add anything to the New York ruling or make it more meaningful in any way. It just leaves it alone.

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