Initiatives


The Child Rights Project focuses on cases in which children's rights may be overlooked.  Under the direction of Professor Barbara Woodhouse, students develop briefs related to cases coming before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Affordable Care Act Brief

In OT 2011 the Child Rights Project filed an Amicus Brief, in partnership with the firm of Bondurant, Mixon and Elmore, to highlight the adverse impact on children of a finding that Congress, in enacting the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obama Care,” exceeded its proper powers under the Constitution.  While much attention had been focused on the interests of adults, the adverse consequences that striking down the Affordable Care Act would impose on infants, chronically ill children, and youth in foster care had not been fully briefed in prior submissions.  Students researched the Act and data relating to children’s health and drafted a brief explaining the devastating effects of a finding that Congress lacked the power to address children’s health needs on a national scale.

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Brief in Marriage Equality Cases

In OT 2012, the Child Rights Project filed briefs in three different cases.  Two of these cases  are collectively known as the “marriage equality cases.”  In the first case, U.S. v. Windsor , a surviving spouse of a same sex marriage that was valid under new York State law challenged the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which prevented a surviving same sex spouse from receiving the same favorable tax treatment accorded to opposite sex spouses.  The second case,  Hollingsworth v. Perry,  involved the constitutionality of California’s Prop 8, which prohibited marriages between individuals of the same sex.  The Child Rights Project partnered with the firm Bryan Cave and with other child and family advocacy groups to provide the Court with a “Youth Voices” brief giving the perspectives of children growing up in families headed by same sex couples and the perspectives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth who would be adversely affected by a decision that discriminated against their current and future families.  In the course of their research, students conducted a survey of LGBTQ youth perspectives that provided additional evidence of the importance of marriage equality to this especially vulnerable group of young people.

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Baby Girl Brief

In Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, Birth Father and Cherokee Nation, the Child Rights Project, in partnership with the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, authored a brief articulating the right of every child to due consideration of his or her best interests in key decisions about protection of their family relationships.  The brief urged the Court to interpret the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) so that courts adjudicating an adoption dispute could accord due weight to Native American children’s interests in maintaining relationships with adoptive or foster parents to whom they have become attached, in addition to weighing their interests in connections to biological family and Native American tribes. 

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