The North Dakota Attorney General's office has filed a motion asking
a judge to strike down Walsh County's Equal Parenting Initiative.
The motion was filed Wednesday in Northeast District Court in Grafton.
The motion was written by Assistant AG Doug Bahr. It says in part that
Walsh County's equal parenting initiative is invalid. The argument is that a home
rule charter, including Walsh County's, does not have authority to regulate industry
or activity regulated by North Dakota law or by the rules of a state agency. The
motion says Walsh County can't enact the equal parenting initiative because matters
of domestic relations, including child custody, visitation, and support, have been
regulated by state law for years.
The North Dakota AG's motion also says the state has the right to intervene
in this matter. The author of the equal parenting initiative, Mitch Sanderson, asked
the court enforce the initiative. The state AG's office argues if the court declares the
equal parenting initative legal and enforceable, it'd preempt state law.
Sanderson last year circulated petitions to get the question of equal parenting
rights on Walsh County's ballot. Walsh County voters last November approved it and
the Walsh County Commission adopted it in December. Since then, Sanderson asked
the court to enforce the equal parenting initiative and that's when the North Dakota
Attorney General's Office decided to intervene, to ask the judge to strike that initiative