GPO-CONAN-2017-10-15.pdf

Liberty interests of people with mental disabilities

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best interests of a child. Liberty Interests of People with Mental Disabilities: Civil Commitment and Treatment. —The recognition of liberty rights for people with mental disabilities who are involuntarily commit- ted or who voluntarily seek commitment to public institutions is 705 Smith v. Organization of Foster Families, 431 U.S. 816 (1977). As the Court noted, the rights of a natural family arise independently of statutory law, whereas the ties that develop between a foster parent and a foster child arise as a result of state-ordered arrangement. As these latter liberty interests arise from positive law, they are subject to the limited expectations and entitlements provided under those laws. Further, in some cases, such liberty interests may not be recognized without derogation of the substantive liberty interests of the natural parents. Although Smith does not define the nature of the interest of foster parents, it would appear to be quite limited and attenuated. Id. at 842–47. In a conflict between natural and foster families, a court is likely to defer to a typical state process which makes such deci- sions based on the best interests of the child. See Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U.S. 246 (1978). 706 Michael H. v. Gerald D., 491 U.S. 110 (1989). There was no opinion of the Court. A majority of Justices (Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun, Stevens, White) was willing to recognize that the biological father has a liberty interest in a relationship with his child, but Justice Stevens voted with the plurality (Scalia, Rehnquist, O’Connor, Kennedy) because he believed that the statute at issue adequately protected that interest. 707 The clearest conflict to date was presented by state law giving a veto to par- ents over their minor children’s right to have an abortion. Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52 (1976); Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 503 U.S. 833 (1992). See also Parham v. J. R., 442 U.S. 584 (1979) (parental role in commitment of child for treatment of mental illness). 708 530 U.S. 57 (2000). 709 530 U.S. at 66. 1964 AMENDMENT 14—RIGHTS GUARANTEED
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potentially a major development in substantive due process. The states, pursuant to their parens patriae power, have a substantial interest in institutionalizing persons in need of care, both for the protection of such people themselves and for the protection of others. 710 A state, however, “cannot constitutionally confine without more a nondanger- ous individual who is capable of surviving safely in freedom by him- self or with the help of willing and responsible family members or friends.” 711 Moreover, a person who is constitutionally confined “en- joys constitutionally protected interests in conditions of reasonable care and safety, reasonably nonrestrictive confinement conditions, and such training as may be required by these interests.” 712 Influ- ential lower court decisions have also found a significant right to treatment 713 or “habilitation,” 714 although the Supreme Court’s ap- proach in this area has been tentative.
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