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Why are the requisites for federal constitutional child caretakers largely left to state lawmakers? Both Supreme Court and congressional explanations, when offered, fail to justify the extreme deference and the resulting significant interstate variations as to who is a parent for federal constitutional parental childcare purposes. These very broad variations in who possesses fundamental federal constitutional rights are unique to the childcare setting, causing many problems for children and those who care for them. These problems would be mitigated if child caretakers, like the criminally accused, gun owners, and abortion seekers, were more precisely defined by federal lawmakers. The Supreme Court, not Congress, should provide more precise definitions. New cases should address the open questions that forestall complete uniformity as to who constitutes a federal constitutional parental child caretaker. This Article explores the questions that implicate biological, functional, and contractual legal parents, and how such a resolution by the Supreme Court would benefit child caretakers, their children, and the country overall.



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