To The Daily Sun,
Tony Boutin's latest attempt at misdirection is one of his usual tries at making us believe that up is down or that black is white. His verbal scam was perfectly described by Abraham Lincoln when he said that an opponent was trying to make his audience believe that "a horse chestnut is a chestnut horse."
He mentioned me in that letter, and I think it might be useful to share our families' experience because you want us to believe that many"'Americans are now constantly at Supreme Court to defend liberties."
Everyone in the United States is entitled to "due process rights" under federal law. There was a time when we as parents were involved with getting one of our children an education within the public school system. Our son has a handicap that required intervention at school and other ancillary services.
These were covered under Federal Law: PL 94-142. (PL stands for Public Law). In part the law stated that states and in particular public schools were to provide an appropriate education in the "least restrictive environment" for children with physical and emotional handicaps.
To make a very long story short, after years of non-compliance by the school system with both state and federal law, we reluctantly chose to go through the courts. From numerous mediation meetings (at the COH, otherwise known as the Committee on the Handicapped) on school level all the way up to a Supreme Court case, we were able to win our lawsuit. In conjunction with our case there was a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of this particular group. The law and subsequent ruling allowed us to place our son in a private school setting (his least restrictive environment) at no extra added expense to parents. The group's education was to be paid for by the school district via state and federal funds specifically budgeted for this purpose.
The private school we sent our son to for a couple of years educates children with this disability up through high school. The school is world renowned and is able to successfully educate young people from many states and foreign countries.
Because of our right to due process under federal law, he is very successful in his field of endeavor. But alas, there is a very sad ending to this story.
I should mention that our attorney won many cases for her clients as a result of PL 94-142 being in place. The Supreme Court at that time ruled in favor of the parents being able to send their children to private schools (saying that these placements would be the students Least Restrictive Environment) at no extra added expense to the families enjoined in this class action lawsuit.
Alas, public school administrators were not happy with this ruling. They did not want to "set" a precedent by having to send children with this particular type of handicap to private schools. They traveled to D.C. and had meetings with administration officials in the Reagan White House to plead that PL 94-142 be watered down or totally abolished.
Then our attorney was "summoned" to the Reagan White House where she was told to 'back off' and not take any more cases of this nature.
There were also Republicans in Congress who were more than willing and then proceeded to change or alter the wording and intent of PL 94-142 (sound familiar yet, Mr. Boutin?). In the same time frame many public school administrators and state Departments of Education took their case to the Court of Appeals (the next highest court in the land under the Supreme Court) to appeal the Supreme Court ruling.
The three judge Court of Appeals overturned the Supreme Court ruling stating that parents had to go back to their home school districts and basically start all over again in trying to work with administrators to get their children the education and services needed.
It goes without saying that this ruling was the death knell for all of the progress and hard-won fight on the part of these parents. Parents were tired, drained of resources and sick of fighting the system, only to be sent back to their home school districts. Those parents who had the resources were able to place these children in the appropriate private school setting at their own expense.
This is but one example of why we must never take our due process rights for granted. Nor should we lead people to believe (as you state in your letter) that "government would not only have to intrude, but in many cases make a mockery of the first four freedoms."
It is sad that you believe that a government that will protect people is "more expansive and more expensive, but most importantly, much more controlling and intrusive." Many times, people need government to protect them from being subject to others' personal beliefs or simple convenience.
Public schools and public companies have always had to recognize the rights of people of different beliefs than their own. That is part of being a member of the public. Your twisted use of personal liberty arguments are the same ones used by restaurants and bus companies in the 1950s to refuse service to black Americans. Personal liberty is not the same thing as the liberty to enforce one's personal beliefs on the rest of society.