Posted by: Tasha C. Taylor | April 7, 2011

Arkansas Supreme Court Rules Act 1 Unconstitutional

The Arkansas Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision handed down this morning, affirmed the Pulaski County Circuit Court’s decision ruling that Act 1 is unconstitutional as a violation of fundamental privacy rights under the Arkansas Constitution.

The following is a link to the Court’s Decision: DHS v Cole Opinion

Act 1–also known as the Arkansas Adoption and Foster Care Act of 2008–was approved by Arkansas voters by a vote of 57% on November 4, 2008.  Act 1, which went into effect on January 1, 2009, prohibits an individual from adopting or serving as a foster parent if that individual is “cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of a marriage that is valid under the Arkansas Constitution and the laws of this state.” Ark. Code Ann. Section 9-8-304(b).  The prohibition on adoption and foster parenting “applies equally to cohabiting opposite-sex and same-sex individuals.” Ark. Code Ann. Section 9-8-304(b).

In today’s opinion, the Arkansas Supreme Court announced its holding concerning the constitutionality of Act 1 as follows:

We hold that a fundamental right to privacy is at issue in this case and that, under the Arkansas Consitution, sexual cohabitors have the right to engage in private, consensual, noncommercial intimacy in the privacy of their homes.  We further hold that this right is jeopardized by Act 1 which precludes all sexual cohabitors, without exception, from eligibility for parenthood, whether by means of adoption or foster care. 


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