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Stanley v Illinois 92 SCt 1208 1972 Nature of Case The plaintiff is Peter Stanley He said that his rights to equal protection of the law under the 14th Amendment have been violated He believes that the Illinois law that makes children of unwed fathers wards of the state upon death of the mother violated his rights Facts Joan and Peter Stanley lived intermittently together for 18 years in which they had 3 children When Joan Stanley died Stanleys children were declared wards of the state and placed with court appointed guardians after a dependency hearing by the State of Illinois Stanley claimed that he had never been shown to be an unfit parent He believed that since married fathers and unwed mothers could not be deprived of their children without proving this neither should he The Illinois Supreme Court accepted the fact that Peter Stanleys unfitness had not been proven but rejected that he was deprived of his rights under the 14th amendment Issue Did the State of Illinois violate the Equal Protection Clause when it denied Peter Stanley a hearing on his fitness to keep his children Holding Yes a hearing is guaranteed by equal protection under the law for both married fathers and unwed mothers unwed fathers Rule 1 Justice White speaking for the majority believes that the decision in this case is similar to Bell v Burson in which held that the state could not deprive a person of there drivers license pertaining to a speeding violation without a hearing He stated The states interest in caring for Stanleys children is de minimis if Stanley is shown to be a fit father It insists on presuming rather than proving Stanleys unfitness solely because it is more convenient to presume than to prove 2 They concluded that all Illinois parents are constitutionally entitled to a hearing on their fitness before their children are removed
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