Below is the abstract for “In Loco Reipublicae,” available for download on SSRN.

The Supreme Court has long held that children enjoy a range of constitutional rights and has emphasized the critical importance of many of these rights to children’s development as democratic citizens. At the same time, the Court has been resolute in its protection of parents’ near-absolute authority to control the upbringing of children. Indeed, the Supreme Court’s steadfast commitment to broad parental rights under the Due Process Clause effectively diminishes, if not outright nullifies, the Court’s stated protections for children as rights-bearing citizens. The stakes for children have only heightened as parents increasingly seek to exercise their authority to shield their children from certain ideas, such as ideas about racial injustice or gender inequality, that are essential to their development as full citizens in a pluralistic, democratic polity.

This Article offers a new framework for children in constitutional law, one that elevates children’s rights as developing citizens by recognizing parental duties to respect those citizenship rights. The in loco reipublicae framework positions parents as standing in place of the state with constitutional duties to ensure children’s acquisition of the knowledge and skills needed for citizenship in our democratic polity. Parental in loco reipublicae duties are rooted in a potent constitutional mixture of parents’ unique custodial authority over children and children’s own citizenship rights. While children’s free-speech rights are not the only constitutional rights that protect children’s citizenship interests, they are a powerful exemplar of parental duties to ensure children’s access to ideas outside the home. In articulating a theory of children’s citizenship rights and parents’ corresponding duties, the in loco reipublicae framework aims to fortify the parent-child relationship while at the same time respecting children as developing democratic citizens in their own right.

Anne C. Dailey

University of Connecticut School of Law

Having joined the UConn Law faculty in 1990, Anne C. Dailey writes and teaches primarily in the areas of family law, children and the law, constitutional law, and law and psychoanalysis. She currently serves as associate dean for faculty development and intellectual life, a position she also held from 2007 to 2008 and 2013 to 2014. Professor Dailey was also associate dean for academic affairs from 2008 to 2010.


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