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Arkansas Department of Human Services v. Cole

Supreme Court of Arkansas
380 S.W.3d 429, 2011 Ark. 145 (2011)


In 2008, the citizens of Arkansas passed a ballot initiative called the Arkansas Adoption and Foster Care Act of 2008 (the Act). The Act prohibited unmarried individuals who were cohabitating from fostering or adopting children. Sheila Cole (plaintiff) challenged the Act as unconstitutional. Cole asserted that the Act violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits states from depriving citizens of life, liberty, or property by means that are arbitrary or fundamentally unfair. Cole also asserted that the Act burdened her right to participate in an intimate relationship in the privacy of her own home. The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) (defendant) argued that adopting and fostering children are privileges offered by the state, not rights. DHS further argued that it was in the best interests of the children of Arkansas to be raised in stable homes and that unmarried cohabitation does not offer the stability that marriage does. The circuit court ruled in favor of Cole, finding the Act to be unconstitutional. The DHS appealed the decision.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Brown, J.)

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