parens patriae

noun
par·​ens pat·​ri·​ae | \ ˈpar-ənz-ˈpa-trē-ˌē, -ˈpā-, -trē-ˌī; ˈpär-ens-ˈpä-trē-ˌī\

Legal Definition of parens patriae

: the state in its capacity as the legal guardian of persons not sui juris and without natural guardians, as the heir to persons without natural heirs, and as the protector of all citizens unable to protect themselves because the State is supposed to proceed in respect of the child as parens patriae and not as adversaryKent v. United States, 383 U.S. 541 (1966)

History and Etymology for parens patriae

Latin, parent of the country

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