US Department of Justice: No Fundamental Right to Homeschool

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Uwe and Hannelore Romeike were a couple living in Germany who homeschooled their six children. There’s only one problem: in Germany, homeschooling has been against the law since the Nazis were in power.

After facing intimidation, abuse, and repeated fines (to the tune of $10,000 USD) the Romeikes chose to move to the United States to ask asylum and homeschool their children in peace. In 2010, they were granted political refuge by a US immigration judge. Like so many immigrants before them, they came to America seeking to exercise religious liberty in a way not afforded to them in their own nation.

But under Attorney General Eric Holder, the US Department of Justice wants to send them back. If they are forced to return to Germany and refuse to send their children to school, they face the very real threat of losing custody.

Now living in Tennessee, the Romeikes are being represented by Michael Farris, an attorney and the founder and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). Writes Farris:

The U.S. law of asylum allows a refugee to stay in the United States permanently if he can show that he is being persecuted for one of several specific reasons. Among these are persecution for religious reasons and persecution of a “particular social group.”

In most asylum cases, there is some guesswork necessary to figure out the government’s true motive—but not in this case. The Supreme Court of Germany declared that the purpose of the German ban on homeschooling was to “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.”

This sounds elegant, perhaps, but at its core it is a frightening concept. This means that the German government wants to prohibit people who think differently from the government (on religious or philosophical grounds) from growing and developing into a force in society.

[…]

But, let’s assess the position of the United States government on the face of its argument: a nation violates no one’s rights if it bans homeschooling entirely.

There are two major portions of constitutional rights of citizens—fundamental liberties and equal protection. The U.S. Attorney General has said this about homeschooling. There is no fundamental liberty to homeschool. So long as a government bans homeschooling broadly and equally, there is no violation of your rights. This is a view which gives some acknowledgement to the principle of equal protection but which entirely jettisons the concept of fundamental liberties.

A second argument is revealing. The U.S. government contended that the Romeikes’ case failed to show that there was any discrimination based on religion because, among other reasons, the Romeikes did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool.

[…]

This argument necessarily means that the United States government believes that it would not violate your rights if our own government banned homeschooling entirely.

This is a dangerous precedent. If the position of the US DOJ is that there is no fundamental right for families to educate their own children, how long will it take before the right to do so is taken away in the US? The case is couched in language about individual vs. group rights as a basis for evidence of persecution, but what right is more fundamental in our nation than individual religious liberty, the very principle America was founded upon?

The continued encroachment upon religious liberty under this administration is chilling. Keep an eye on this case, as it will likely serve as a bellwether for what is to come for US homeschoolers.

 

 

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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