US Department of Justice: No Fundamental Right to Homeschool

Uwe Romeike, Hannelore Romeike, Daniel Romeike, Lydia Romeike, Josua Romeike, Christian Romeike, Damaris Romeike

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.

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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.

 

 

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Categories:Education Politics Religious Liberty

27 thoughts on “US Department of Justice: No Fundamental Right to Homeschool

  1. A Concerned Citizen says:

    From the website, Homeschool Facts: “There is a common myth that homeschooling produces social misfits. This myth partially arises from an assumption that traditional education systems provide “normal” socialization activities. Dr. Raymond Moore, in his book Better Late than Early writes that “The idea that children need to be around many other youngsters in order to be ‘socialized’ is perhaps the most dangerous and extravagant myth in education and child rearing today.” There is ample research that indicates that because home schooled students are exposed to a wider variety of people and situations, they learn to get along with a variety of people, making them socially mature and better able to adjust to new situations.

    In their Communities: Many non-homeschoolers believe that homeschooling can turn out better students, but because homeschool students are educated in greater isolation from the world, they are less politically and socially involved. . The first generation of homeschoolers has now grown up and entered the workforce. Dr. Ray surveyed over 7,000 adults who had been home schooled and compared them against their more traditionally educated peers. His research found that:

    Ninety-five percent of homeschoolers had an adequate comprehension of politics and government, compared to 65% of U.S. adults.
    Seventy-one percent of homeschool graduates participate in ongoing community service activities, including politics, compared to 37% of adults in similar ages.
    Eighty-eight percent of HS graduates are members of organizations (community groups, church, or professional organizations) compared to 50% of U.S. adults.
    Significantly, 76% of homeschool graduates voted in a national or state election within the past 5 years, compared to 29 percent of similar U.S. adults.

    In college: Many homeschool families are concerned whether their child will be able to do well on the SAT/ACT’s and get into college. Every year, colleges across the nation and around the world are opening their doors to homeschoolers. Many of the most prestigious colleges around the nation have accepted homeschoolers: Brown, Georgetown, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, the United States Military Academy at West Point, UC at Berkeley, University of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Yale, just to name a few. Homeschool Facts has compiled a list of over 1,400 colleges that accept homeschoolers, and that list grows longer every day.

    Colleges and Universities all around the nation have realized the positive benefits of attracting homeschoolers. Research indicates that homeschoolers who have gone to college have no social skill deprivation, exhibit greater leadership skills, demonstrated stronger work ethic and had higher moral values, integral in their college success.

    Homeschooling is obviously not for everyone. However, it is also an education option that should be considered for any family that does not feel their student’s needs are being met in traditional educational systems. At Homeschool Facts, we are not anti-public education, we are pro-education choice. We support the parent’s right to choose which educational environment will work best for their child. “

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