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Copyright (c) 1992 The University of Illinois
University of Illinois Law Review

ARTICLE: CHILDREN AND THE CONSTITUTION [+]



[+] This article was originally presented on February 12, 1991, as the second 1990-91 lecture of the David C. Baum Memorial Lectures on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights at the University of Illinois College of Law.

1992

University of Illinois Law Review

1992 U. Ill. L. Rev. 1

Author

Homer H. Clark, Jr. *

Excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

It seems appropriate to begin a discussion of children and the Constitution with the observation that there is nothing in the Constitution about children, minors or infants, or parents for that matter. So far as I have been able to determine, none of those subjects appears in the records or debates leading to the drafting and ratification of the Constitution. 1 This apparently complete absence of any mention of children or their relationships with their parents is all the more notable in view of the existence of various provisions in several colonial bills of rights and charters dealing with the legal capacity of children, their standing in civil and criminal proceedings, inheritance rights of children, their treatment by their parents, and their education. 2 It also appears that the interests of children played no part in the debates leading to the enactment of the Civil War Amendments to the Constitution. 3 At long last, with the ratification of the Twenty-sixth Amendment in 1971, the Constitution recognized political interests of children. 4 A serious devotion to the original intention of the Framers as the controlling principle of constitutional interpretation would end our discussion of children and the Constitution at this point, 5 but fortunately for our purposes there is much more to be said.

Although it is generally dubious to attribute reasons to historical events, or in this case to nonevents, one might suggest several explanations for the omission of any mention of children in the Constitution. The most ...
 
 
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