Friday, June 19, 2009

A smidgen of victory for Texas Children

Very good news for Texas children: Texas Governor Rick Perry vetoed SB 1440, the bill discussed in several previous posts to this blog. The governor says the bill "overreaches and may not give due consideration to the Fourth Amendment rights of a parent or guardian." There's no maybe about it. But the problem with the bill is what it would have done to the Fourth Amendment rights of children. The full veto message is here.

Among those probably most disappointed: Some of the reporters covering the bill, particularly, it would seem, the one for the Dallas Morning News, who now is parroting the party line suggesting the opposition is a vast right-wing conspiracy. He even wrongly labels one of the groups leading the opposition, the Parent Guidance Center, a "conservative group." And, of course, if you're for the bill, according to this reporter, you get the coveted label "child advocate" while if you oppose it you're a "parents' rights" group.

The Austin American Statesman was worse, refusing to acknowledge that anyone besides "conservative, libertarian and family-rights organizations" opposed the bill, (at least the reporter said "family"). Then, after a brief quote from the Parent Guidance Center, a huge portion of the story is devoted to comments from the bill's strongest backer, the Center for Public Policy Priorities, which offered up a series of misleading statements (about which more tomorrow). Both of these reporters love to refer to CPPP as a group "which advocates for low- and middle-income Texans" as though the one thing impoverished Texans want most is for their poverty to be confused with neglect and their children to be taken away. (In contrast, the San Antonio Express News didn't sink to cheap stereotyping in its story about several bills vetoed by the governor.)

In fact, this veto shows what can be accomplished when left and right put aside their differences – not forever, just long enough to find common ground and stop a bill that would have hurt children.

But there are limits to this victory. I said in a previous post that the bill effectively reduced the amount of evidence needed for CPS to enter a home from a smidgen to a tenth of a smidgen.

Now, if we can just increase the standard to, say, two or three smidgens.