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Abstract

Naming a child is often one of the most exciting parts of having a baby. Some parents, of course, choose to be more creative and unique, which leads to some very interesting names like Toilet Queen, Acne Fountain, Crimson Tide Redd, Messiah, Candy Stohr, and Violence. Although some of these names are quite absurd, should the government be able to tell parents that they have crossed the line?

When parents agree about the name they want to give their child, should the state or courts be able to intervene in that decision if the state has problems with the name? To what extent do parents have the right to name their child free from government regulation? This note argues that parents’ rights to name their children should be protected, either as fundamental rights guaranteed through the Fourteenth Amendment, or through the First Amendment’s protection of speech. Either analysis would require states to show a compelling interest in order to regulate the names that parents give their children or before judges exercise their authority to change the name.

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