DOE V. SUNDQUIST Case No. #3-96-0599


End Notes

(1) The instant case is distinguished from Memphis Planned Parenthood Inc. v. Sundquist because in Planned Parenthood the court protected anonymity in matters regarding a fundamental unlisted constitutional right, abortion. No. 3:89-0520 (M.D.Tenn. July 3, 1996). Birth parent confidentiality is not required by either the Constitution or the Supreme Court, because the right to place a child for adoption is not a recognized constitutional right. ________________________ (2) As their second cause of action plaintiffs allege that "the Act violates the parental rights of the plaintiffs as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. 11 (Pls. Am. Compl. , 1 23) . Plaintiffs have not briefed this cause of action, so their contentions are unclear. Birth parents who placed their children for adoption by definition have no parental rights, since they surrendered their parental rights during the adoption proceedings. Adoption agencies have no parental rights. The only category of persons having parental rights represented by the plaintiffs are adoptive parents. However, adoptive parents have no parental rights over their children once they reach the age of majority, and since the Act only affects adopted persons who are at least twenty-one years of age, none of the categories of persons represented by the plaintiffs have parental rights which would be threatened by the Act. Therefore, this brief shall assume that plaintiffs intended "parental rights" to be subsumed into the broader category of familial and reproductive privacy which the Supreme Court has recognized. _________________________ (3) If an increased abortion rate drives Plaintiffs fears about the Act, it is interesting to note that many anti-abortion/pro-life groups praise open adoption as an "affirmative alternative to abortion." Bill Betzen, Open Adoption Saves Lives, 1993 Living World 6 (1993). They reason that when pregnant women were given the choice between placing a child for adoption and never knowing anything about the child, or having an abortion, either way the child was dead unto the mother. But open adoption allows pregnant women the possibility that they might someday know the child they placed for adoption. Thus what once was a choice between death and death becomes a choice between death and life. Id. at 7. __________________________ (4) The Supreme Court's recent decision in Romer v. Evans, did not recognize any additional suspect classes for equal protection purposes. Instead, the Court held that Colorado's Amendment 2, which precluded government action designed to protect the status of persons based on their homosexual orientation, was unconstitutional because it failed the rational basis test. U.S. 1 1996 LEXIS 3245, 9 (1996). Specifically, the Court held that animosity toward a group is not a rational basis for legislation. Id. at 7 (11 [T] he Amendment seems inexplicable by anything but animus toward the class that it affects; it lacks a rational relationship to any legitimate state interest. 11) . In addition, the Court found the Amendment was too broad to have a rational relationship to a legitimate state interest. Id. at 8-9 ("The breath of the Amendment is so far removed from these particular justifications that we find it impossible to credit them..). Nothing in the legislative history suggests that the Tennessee General Assembly in amending the adoption code was motivated by animosity toward birth mothers as opposed to women who chose to have abortions. Furthermore, the amended code is narrow in its scope and was drafted to specifically address the legitimate state interest of allowing adopted persons access to their records in the interest of an adoption process which is fair to all the parties involved.