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.

[...]

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. Susan E. Bennett says:

    Homeschooling is a cornerstone of freedom of religion. Only secular humanism is allow in public schools.

  2. Jennifer says:

    For thousands of years parents and grandparents were the primary educators of their children/grandchildren in all things not just in religious instruction. Public education is the new kid on the block. As a Christian I believe that not only will I answer for the things that I do but also for the things that I fail to do. I will answer not only for the things in which I take part but also for the things from which I fail to withdraw my participation when it violates my beliefs. For those who are religious a child’s education is not just a secular task. It is also a spiritual responsibility. I will answer for how my child is raised, what my child is taught in all areas of education and whether my child becomes an adult who gives to or takes from society. Parents being responsible for teaching their children is not only a God given right it is a biblical command. There are those who disagree with this. That is great! That is what this country is all about. There are those who disagree with this and would take away my choice and ability to follow my religious beliefs. That is not acceptable. Sooner or later no one would have any rights at all and we will have become a totalitarian nation.

  3. karen zoanelli says:

    home schooling your children because they DESERVE an education free from religious and moral indoctrination – that comes under FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Mr. holder better read our Constitution. it seem to me he, holder, is in the wrong place.
    also – if you look at the result of home schooling compared to public school education – there isn’t even a shred of comparison possible. home schoolers by over 90 % surpass the public education – in any field. that alone speaks volumes.
    the German family should be given asylum.

  4. Jane Mahaney says:

    No, but they have the right to choose! AND maybe they want to teach religion that the school does NOT. Whether a public or private school, they won’t necessarily teach the religion they want.

  5. Mia says:

    Tell them to change their last name to sound Latino and they will be allowed to stay.

    1. Antonio A. Badilla says:

      Absolutely true!

  6. Kathy says:

    This is absurd logic!! The whole concept of persecution begins with the “forcible actions to promote one choice over the other”. To say that because segments in Germany choose to be persecuted, does not also say that those who choose not to, must!
    The US is running an amnesty campaign for the acceptance and aides for illegal and non documented aliens on a basis of their freedoms to “choose”, and yet people who legally claim asylum because of violations to a fundamental personal freedom for practicing religious based programs are denied. What in the world has happened to our country’s ethical practices?! And has Mr. Holder forgotten how he was allowed to reach his position?!
    And, it is also very true that this case will most definitely lay the ground work for those choosing homeschooling here as well…be positively assured of that! The persecution for religious conscience has already begun with acceptance of immorality actions, now the HHS mandate and the desecration of marriage.
    There is a petition running to promote the termination of this man. He is very dangerous, as well as the people he answers to, and it is not the majority of American people.

    1. Sara says:

      I fail to understand how homeschooling is a religious right. Homeschooling may be beneficial in many ways, but how is education at home a religious right?

      One does not need to be schooled at home in order to receive a religious education. In addition, being schooled at home does not guarantee shelter from the immorality of the world.

      1. Sarah says:

        Homeschooling relates to religious freedom because many people choose it when they do not feel that they have options that adequately teach their faith. The Catholic grade school around the corner may be teaching heresy, or if you aren’t Catholic, you may not have any options for religious schools in your area if you want your child’s education to specifically focus on your faith. My best friend, who is Episcopalian, was homeschooled for that reason. You can turn on your TV to see that The Duggers homeschool their children for religious reasons. I know many people for whom the very act of teaching the children in the home is an expression of faith. What is totally mundane for one person may have deep religious significance for another.

        Even if you don’t agree with their reasons, this couple took legal path to residency in the U.S., respecting our laws. They came here to educate their children- hinting at a desire to be productive, a concern for the future and the community that their children will experience- all things that make good citizens. It is good for the country to accept immigrants like this family- why send them away? It is an unreasonable bias on the part of the Obama administration to on the one hand advocate amnesty for illegal immigrants and on the other to push out a family seeking to live here who took a legal route to do so. Are we really a nation of immigrants, or are we a nation concerned about increasing our own voting block?

      2. Brian says:

        Sometimes, according to circumstances, being homeschooled is the only plausible way to receive a religious education. Consider the hypothetical family that cannot afford a private Catholic school, for instance, or which lives so far from such a school that attendance would cause some sort of undue burden.

      3. Nancy says:

        Perhaps they homeschool because they do not want their children indoctrinated by the government because the government excludes the very basic fact that GOD exists. Sounds like a religious reason to me!

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