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man repairing girl bike smallMay 11, 2013 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

I've often pointed out that the behavior of Child Protective Services employees often resembles an exercise of state power for its own sake. It's as if child welfare agencies want to make it clear that they can act any way they choose for any reason they choose and just let someone try to do anything about it. Everyone on the planet knows they can and will take your child from you on the slightest pretext and, if you resist, things only get worse. In the timeless tradition of state actors everywhere, any assertion of your rights is met with threats and intimidation. The police often behave the same. The old saying "You can beat the rap, but you can't beat the ride," didn't come from nowhere. It's the accurate description of the power of every police officer; he/she can take you in, book you and you spend at least one night in the tank with a bunch of drunks before you can get out and prove your innocence. Who wants to go through that? Not many people, so they typically accede to the officer's demands, whatever they may be, rather than asserting their rights.

Child Protective Services does something similar. If they show up at your house, you have the same rights as you do if it's the police knocking. You don't have to let them in; you don't have to talk to them. They have no power to make you give them anything, show them anything, etc. All that's true assuming they don't have a warrant. If they do, it's a different situation, of course. But if you assert those rights, you're in trouble. They can go back and, with whatever information they had in the first place, likely convince a judge to issue a warrant. And then, you have a target on your back. You have affronted their authority and every flunky since the Flood resents that and will make you pay. The chances of their taking your children just went up.

But everything I've written about CPS to date has at least had something to do with children. When CPS comes to your house, they usually at least have some allegation of child abuse or neglect to go on. It may be specious, but they're required to check it out.

This case looks different (Huffington Post, 4/29/13). This case looks like an exercise of state power by child welfare workers for another purpose altogether. In this one, the children look to have been used as weapons against the parents, not because of their parenting, but because of their views on pot.

Lindsey and Josh Rinehart and Sarah Caldwell, three of Idaho's most outspoken medical marijuana advocates, returned from a trip last week to find that their children had been turned over to Child Protective Services. They were quickly informed that authorities had raided the Rineharts' house, where the four boys had been left with a babysitter, on suspicion of marijuana trafficking, possession and injury to a child, the activists told KTVB last week.
"They say their goal is to return our children to our home once it is deemed safe. They say our children will be in foster care for 30 days," Lindsey Rinehart said during a KTVB segment. While she's denied that the children were in any sort of danger and said the marijuana was only for personal treatment, Rinehart has expressed concern that her boys could be held for longer. The two children belonging to Caldwell have reportedly been returned.

So how were the children in danger? The parents weren't even home and they'd left the boys in the care of a babysitter who presumably is qualified to do the job. What warrants the children having been taken in the first place and why should they be separated from their parents for 30 days or perhaps longer? And how does possession of only enough marijuana for personal use require placing the children in foster care? After all, if states took the children of every person with an ounce or less of pot on the premises, there'd be more homeless children than parents to care for them; a lot more. So again, why were these children taken?

Well, it looks suspiciously like their parents were zealous advocates for a cause someone in authority disagrees with. And that someone had the power to get CPS out there to shanghai the kids into foster care. What else can we conclude when Lindsey Rinehart sees as the solution to their problem that she cease pot use for her medical condition? How does that affect the kids? Not at all as far as anyone's been able to show. So why should her cessation of pot use lead to the return of the children. The only way I can see is that CPS is using the kids to stop the Rinehart's advocacy for the medical uses of pot.

From here it looks like taking a couple's kids to quash their freedom of speech. Hey, it turns out children can be of use in all sorts of ways. The possibilities are limitless.

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