Josh Gupta-Kagan

In re Sanders and the Resurrection of Stanley v. Illinois

In 1972, the Supreme Court in Stanley v. Illinois declared that parents are entitled to a hearing on their fitness before the state places their children in foster care, but for decades family courts would not apply this precedent to non-offending parents in child protection cases. Without even citing Stanley, courts held that finding one parent unfit justified taking the child into foster care — even when the other parent was fit and sought custody. A Michigan Supreme Court decision this past summer, In re Sanders, suggests that courts are now, more than forty years after it was decided, beginning to apply Stanley to protect fit parents’ and children’s right to stay together.