Supreme Court Decision – Santosky v. Kramer Psychology and the Law


The present assignment is an evaluation of the Supreme Court case of Santosky v. Kramer 455 U.S. 745 (1982). The indicated case was reviewed by the Supreme Court of The United States debated the constitutionality of the burden of proof for the withdrawal of parental rights to a natural child. SCOTUS state was permitted to revoke parental rights to a natural child. Using the ruling of “”fair preponderance’ standard found by the State Family Court on the premises of permanent neglect. However, the Supreme Court of the United States rescinded the Appellate Division’s ruling on the premises that the states pursuing to separate parental rights permanently need to demonstrate there was clear and convincing evidence of neglect. The Court clarified that the concerns for children behoove be expected to be protected while a factor of the involvement of the parent, not regarded as independent, however, rather this tenet has been less clear practically forceful as end procedures still the focal point on the eudaemonia of the parent.

Supreme Court Decision Analysis

Case Summation

The Department of Social Services in Ulster County New York received reports concerning Tina Santosky’s regarding child abuse from neighbors and her physicians regarding her injuries for cuts, bruises, and a broken femur (Shulman, 1982). In 1973, the plaintiff, Kramer, the Commissioner of the Ulster County Department of Social Services in New York suspected child abuse and initiated Tina Santosky removed from her parents’ home on the basis of parental neglect proceedings (Shulman, 1982). 10 months later Santosky’s second child, John II was removed for malnutrition and neglect (Shulman, 1982). Jed, Santosky’s,’ the couples third child was subsequently removed from their custody three days subsequent to his birth and placed in a foster home, on the ground of approaching threats to his eudaemonia (Shulman, 1982).

Social Services acquired training for Santosky’s’ parents for the next several years, pertaining to child welfare, vocational obstacles, and psychiatric health (Santosky v. Kramer, United States Supreme Court, n.d) The couple’s showed little interest in the attending training, however, they continued to maintain some contact with their children (Shulman, 1982). In October 1978, Social Services appealed to the Ulster County Family Court to revoke the Santosky’s’ parental rights (Shulman, 1982; Santosky v. Kramer, United States Supreme Court,”” n.d) under section 622 of New York State Family Court Act (Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745 (1982), n.d.). Kramer showed that a fair preponderance of the evidence burden and show that permanent neglect is more likely than not (Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745 (1982), n.d.). The John and Anne Santoskys’ challenged the constitutionality of the aforementioned burden and their rights were ultimately decided by the court to terminate permanently. However, the Court rejected their challenge and found permanent neglect under the fair preponderance standard (Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 751752 (1982, n.d.), to terminate their rights permanently; SCOTUS granted certiorari (Santosky v. Kramer, the United States Supreme Court, n.d).

Decision and Rational

In the state of New York law, the State may terminate, the parent rights for the biological children due to permanently neglect (LII / Legal Information Institute, 2018), under code 622 of The New York Family Court Act that pertinent to fair preponderance that succor the outcome (LII / Legal Information Institute, 2018). Thus, the focus of termination of parental rights (TPR) assessment in the best in concern of the child (Weitz, Barone, & Witt, 2005). In any case, the previously aforementioned consequently restricts the evaluator’s capacity to be fair-minded and reasonable. Social services brought in neglect proceedings in Family Court to end the Santoskys’ rights of their three young biological children (LII / Legal Information Institute, 2018). The rejection of petitioners’ remonstrance to the due process of 622’s fair preponderance of the evidence standard, the Family Court gauged the proof under that standard and discovered changeless disregard (LII / Legal Information Institute, 2018).

The American Psychological -Law Society (2011); American Psychological Association, 2010, asserted it is essential that an evaluator pursued guidelines that ethically proclaim that they should review unbiasedness and be reasonable and precise as indicated by EPPCC Rules 2.01, 2.04, and 9.01 and in addition SGFP Rules 1.02 and 4.02.02. After an ensuing dispositional hearing, the Family Court determined that the interest of the three children interminable termination of the Santosky’s custody is obligatory (LII / Legal Information Institute, 2018). Hence, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division and the New York Court of Appeals prohibited the Santosky’s (petitioners’) petition to the court (LII / Legal Information Institute, 2018).


Appearing in an oral argument, SCOTUS (n.d.), Martin Guggenheim asserted on behalf of plaintiff the burden of proof under the State of New York law was unconstitutional; affirmed that the constitution implied that the finder of fact should be fairly certain and persuaded that the outcome attributed to lasting destruction of the family is pertinent prior to the state may demand analogous an unavoidable and essential hardship of the individual freedom (Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745 (1982)). Thus, in situations where parental rights could be terminated the forensic psychologist or mental health professional make it assessable to the parent being questioned. So, the objective of the evaluator is to establish a feeling about whether children in question can return safely to their parents home and whether or not the parent can maintain their right to take care of their child/children (Barone et al., 2005). Nevertheless, the appellant asserted obtaining the burden of proof would not have influenced the outcome of the case. Thus, whether the Court should raise the burden, it would disappoint a particular expectation of the lawmaking body SCOTUS (n.d.). Still, there are copious ethical considerations though required. Hence, the evaluator needs to foster a conclusion, yet there is no agreement in the field affirming whether or not it is ethically acceptable to expound an intense opinion (Melton, Petrila, Poythress, & Slobogin, 2007; Slobogin, 1989).

Justice Harry Andrew Blackmun, Composed for a greater part of the Court adhered that biological parents attain privilege to fair treatment under the Fourteenth Amendment; also that the burden of proof utilized by New York State did not sufficiently fulfill the established necessities of the fair treatment condition. In disallowing New York’s burden, the Court used the Mathews test coined from the Matthews v Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976, a SCOTUS case said, people have a legally accepted property right in Social Security benefits, asserting that the termination of such benefits involves fair treatment, which does not require a pre-termination hearing (Justia U.S. Supreme Court, 2018). George Eldridge, a recipient of Social Security benefits, did not receive a hearing before the Social Security Administration (SSA) terminated his benefits (Justia U.S. Supreme Court, 2018). The agency employed its traditional practices, asserting that Eldridge neglected to deplete his post-termination administrative solutions. He argued that the lack of a pre-termination hearing was illegal under the procedural fair treatment protections of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the lower federal courts concurred with him (Justia U.S. Supreme Court, 2018). The Mathews technique was used to assess what burden of proof remains expected (Santosky v. Kramer, 1982). In any case, a conclusion or something to that effect will be made and imparted to the court, regardless of whether it is severe or terminal (Royster, 2013). Also, conveying an intense conclusion might show bias to the trier of certainty in excess of a collaborating a terminal response. However, the author contends that the idea of terminating assessments is excessively affecting for an extreme assumption, making it impossible to be convey in court on the grounds that the innately ardent attitude and capacity for partiality and inaccuracy in the indicated cases that may show some bias the to evaluator’s definitive supposition (Royster, 2013).

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