Trexel Case Study Summary

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Citation.530 U.S. 57, 120 S. Ct. 2054, 147 L. Ed. 2d 49, 2000 U.S.

Brief Fact Summary. The Petitioners, the grandparents of Isabelle Troxel and Natalie Troxel (Petitioners), sued their mother, the Respondent, Tommie Granville (Respondent), for visitation rights, under a Washington statute that allows any individual to sue for visitation rights.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The interest of parents in the “care, custody, and control of their children”� is a fundamental right that the State may not abridge without a compelling interest.

Facts. The Respondent and Brad Troxel (Mr. Troxel) had a relationship that lasted some years and produced two daughters, but the couple never married. Two years after they separated, Mr. Troxel committed suicide. In the time between their separation and his suicide, Mr. Troxel often brought Isabelle Troxel and Natalie Troxel to his parents’ house. After Mr. Troxel’s suicide, his parents wanted to continue to have a relationship with their granddaughters. However, the Respondent’s opinion of appropriate visitation times and durations differed from the grandparents’. So, under the Washington statute authorizing suit for visitation rights by any party, the grandparents asked for a judicial determination in the best interest of the children.

Issue. Does the Washington statute interfere unnecessarily with parental control over the raising of children?
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Troxel v. Granville

United States Supreme Court
530 U.S. 57 (2000)


A Washington statute permitted any person to petition a superior court in the state for visitation rights at any time and authorized the court to grant such visitation rights whenever visitation might serve the best interest of the child. Jenifer and Gary Troxel (plaintiffs) petitioned a Washington Superior Court for the right to visit their paternal grandchildren after their son, the children’s father, committed suicide. Tommie Granville (defendant), the mother of these children, opposed the petition. The Washington Superior Court granted visitation rights to the Troxels, but the Washington Supreme Court reversed and held that the Washington statute unconstitutionally interfered with the fundamental rights of parents to rear their children. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (O’Connor, J.)

Concurrence (Souter, J.)

Concurrence (Thomas, J.)

Dissent (Scalia, J.)

Dissent (Stevens, J.)

Dissent (Kennedy, J.)

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