August 1, 2001
Letter Of The Day
Gilmore ChoiceLetter to the Editor by Chuck DeHart
Daily News-Record of Harrisonburg, Va.
The Gilmore administration silenced a voice for family values this week. Dr. Stephen Baskerville, Ph.D. in political science at Howard University, was appointed to represent non-custodial parents (who are mostly fathers) on a Virginia commission mandated by federal law. The law governing child support review by the states includes the requirement that non-custodial parents be represented to give input to the support review panel.
Dr. Baskerville is a non-custodial Virginia parent, a national expert in domestic law, and top choice among Virginia groups seeking domestic law reform. Unfortunately, he made the "mistake" of expressing his opinions in a letter to the Washington Times.
Dr. Louis Rossiter, Republican Secretary of Health and Human Services, found that his "opinions" would prevent him from "effectively participating" with other representatives on the panel. His opinions are exactly the requirement of federal law.
The irony of the Secretary's decision is that Dr. Baskerville's letter to the Washington Times is based largely upon a document published in 1999 by an agency governed by the same Secretariat. The document is a minority opinion of the very same panel, written by Mr. Barry Koplen, the non-custodial representative at that time.
In essence, the document outlines the fact that the panel is dominated by the same special interests, public and private, which profit from laws that encourage divorce and separation of children from their parents. Among those laws are the excessive support guidelines created by the panel; guidelines that do not withstand a critical analysis of the actual amount of money that it takes to raise a child.
Mr. Koplen goes on to question the constitutionality of draconian support enforcement tactics, including incarceration of fathers who cannot afford to pay the amounts cooked up by these "foxes guarding the hen house." By silencing Dr. Baskerville, Secretary Rossiter and the Gilmore administration have affirmed Mr. Koplen's findings.